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What’s A Couple Of Secrets To Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Q:

We are having company over, do you have any secrets for making mashed Idaho russet potatoes? I don’t have a ricer, just an old fashioned masher.

A:

Almost always cooks in the kitchen want to do their potatoes ahead of time for a party or large gathering. There are two common ways to start.

Not many people have tried this, but baking potatoes with the skin on ahead of time works great for mashed potatoes or for making gnocchi at home. Bake scrubbed Idaho russets for about 1 hour at 400 degrees F or till a fork can pierce the skin and interior without any resistance. Then, let cool slightly and cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the insides and place in a bowl and mash, just enough to break up into smaller pieces before adding warm milk and butter. You can also let them cool overnight and then scoop out the pulp, mash and heat in the microwave, then add liquids just before guests sit down for dinner.

The other method is to boil or steam the potatoes till fork tender and mash. I personally prefer peeling the potatoes and cutting into large even sized 1-2 inch chunks before adding to cold water, then heated for 15-20 minutes till tender rather than boiling a whole peeled potato. The whole potato tends to get crumbly on the outside before the inside is fully cooked. Especially an issue with some who say they prefer reds over russets for potato salad because the potato “breaks down” and doesn’t keep its shape.

If you have peeled or cut the raw potatoes and left them out at room temp they will start to discolor from exposure to air, just like an apple will do. One way to solve this issue is to peel and cut the potatoes and immediately cover with water. A secret I like to use to prevent oxidation is to place the raw potatoes into water, rinse till the excess starches and sugars are gone and the water in the bowl is clear and not milky in color from the starch granules AND then add a little acidity like concentrated lemon juice or white wine vinegar (not apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar which will change the appearance of the potatoes). In this method you could keep the potatoes chilled overnight and prepare the next day by draining the liquid, and boiling the potatoes.

When you take the cooked potatoes out of the pot from boiling, set the pot aside. Put the potatoes in a colander to drain most of the water off. RETURN the potatoes to the pot, and place on a hot burner for 1-2 minutes to cook off any excess moisture before mashing and adding warm (not cold milk or cream) and butter or margarine.

 

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