It’s fairly straightforward to make mashed potato, but if your mash is not quite turning out like the best you’ve tried elsewhere then are you using all the following tips?
- Use the right type of potatoes
Choose higher starch potatoes (like Russets) for the fluffiest, smoothest mash. They also absorb flavourings more easily. Lower starch potatoes (such as red or white varieties) require more mashing to become creamy (although using a potato ricer can help!).
- Salting the water
When potatoes cook, the starch granules swell and absorb water and, if you’ve added it, salt. This means you don’t need to add as much at the end for a well-seasoned mash.
- Cook from cold
Cover the potatoes with cold water, add salt, then heat to boiling and reduce to a simmer. If you add the potatoes to hot water, they’ll cook unevenly, with the outside falling apart before the inside is cooked.
- Drain well
Make sure you drain the potatoes well once cooked. You can gently reheat the drained potatoes on the stovetop to dry them out slightly before mashing.
- Don’t add cold flavourings
Add butter at room temperature to your hot potatoes, then mash in the warm milk / cream. It will be absorbed more easily, and won’t cool everything down.
- Don’t overwork the potatoes
Mashing potatoes too vigorously, for example in a food processor, or for too long releases lots of starch. This can make your potatoes gluey and unappetising. Be gentle with your potatoes, and you’ll be rewarded with a light and fluffy mash.
- Don’t make them too far ahead
Mashed potatoes don’t take kindly to sitting around for long periods (the flavour & texture changes). If you do make them an hour or two in advance, keep them covered and warm. Fluff them up again before serving.
A bonus tip, and actually the one that makes the most difference, make sure you add plenty of butter. Try using from 4:1 to 2:1 potato:butter by weight depending upon your taste, the latter giving a much richer mash (almost puree).