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The Best Tips And Tricks For An Idaho Mashed Potato Demonstation

Q:

I am a student of food and I have volunteered to be on a local television show to talk about how much I love Idaho potatoes as well as demonstrate how to make them. Any tips that might help me get through this and look like an expert?

A:

My boss came to me with just such a challenge. He was to be interviewed on TV in Boise about some of the exciting marketing programs the Idaho Potato Commission is involved in. Here is a concise set of notes I gave him along with a list of utensils, pots and serving bowls. CEO Frank Muir did an excellent job, check it out at this link: http://idahonews.com/idaho-living/the-idaho-potato-commission

 

Mashed Potato Tips

A.    Preparation Tips:

1.    Start with cold water (not hot which isn’t as pure)

2.    Peel and cut into even sized 1 inch chunks, which cooks faster

3.    Salt and boil for 30 minutes

4.    Simmer liquids (milk, buttermilk, cream)

5.    Potatoes are done when a fork can pierce easily or tong can smash it

6.    Drain off water and put back on the stove to dry potatoes, usually takes 30 seconds

7.    Add warm or hot liquid - not all, just some. Start to mash, then add the rest slowly.

B.    Any Butterball 1-800 Moments with Mashed Potatoes?

1.    From a food safety standpoint, don’t leave out a room temperature after baking or boiling…refrigerate!

2.    It’s easy to over-mix and then they become gluey. Think “crush” and “smash”, not “whip” and “blend”. Once you break the cell it releases the starch and that’s why they become gluey.

3.    Hot mashed potatoes won’t happen if you add cold liquids. Add hot milk, cream, or chicken broth.

4.    Watch the salt. I once used popcorn salt by mistake and couldn’t tell how much was going on. Use Kosher salt instead.

5.    If you fix the day before, beware that potatoes that are exposed to air will turn black. Hard water or water that has been softened is alkaline and can cause color changes in potatoes. Add ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar per gallon of water. Potatoes also react to iron.

C.    How to Fix Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time?

1.    Cook, drain into sieve or colander, place in an ice back with lemon juice, water, ice for a couple of minutes. Put into a plastic tub with a lid and refrigerate overnight.

2.    The next day, head up in a microwave or slow cooker, then add hot liquids and serve. I love the slow cooker to keep food warm, not just to cook in.

D.   Tools to Own or Buy

1.    New Potato Peeler – straight blade preferred. The sharper the blade, the faster you peel

2.    Ricer – be a pro, buy one. Like a garlic press but with holes.

3.    Plastic tubs – don’t store in a metal container.

NO – Mixer, food processor, immersion blender, wire whip unless you want pureed potatoes

E.    Mashed Potato Interview

1.    Ingredients you wouldn’t expect to use when making mashed potatoes

                   i.    Lemon juice, white wine vinegar, Vitamin C, cream of tartar to keep potatoes white

                   ii.    Kosher salt (larger crystals, easier to see how much you’re adding)

F.    Favorite Ways to Make Mashed Potatoes

1.    Smashed or mashed (some lumps)

2.    Pureed or whipped (smooth)

3.    Baked, then the insides scooped made into Mashed

G.     Why Idaho Russet Burbank Potatoes (and not Yukon Gold or Red without adjusting the prep methods)

1.    High solids (starch to low moisture ratio). Russet Burbank (21%) Reds (18%

2.    Starch stored in tiny granules that swell when the water inside is heated

                         i.    Russet Burbank – larger cells, can take more abuse, over-mixing (fluff)

                         ii.    Yukon’s – hold shape, but not able to take abuse

                         iii.    Reds – Waxy, burst small cells