The Potato Chronicles

I’m not really an expert at anything except perhaps making mashed potatoes. In fact, I’m thinking of bringing a huge vat of mashed potatoes to Wednesday night’s blogging event at the College or St. Rose. If people don’t like me or my stupid blog, maybe some mashed potatoes will change their minds.

Anyway, there are roughly a billion recipes out there for mashed potatoes, but many people still can’t make them. Here are a few of my secrets.

The potatoes: I use un-peeled red potatoes. The peels add some color to the mix and they probably have lots of fiber in there. Slice them into quarters and cook until just tender. As soon as you get your potatoes in the water — that sounds a bit lewd, doesn’t it? — turn your attention to the garlic.

Garlic: Roasting whole cloves of garlic and squeezing them out into the potatoes is time consuming, messy, and generally a pain in the ass. Instead, I peel my garlic and throw it in a little pan with with olive oil. Brown it gently until soft and tender — which conveniently takes about the same amount of time as cooking the potatoes. Put the cloves in with your drained potatoes and mash them all together.

The Masher: I rescued mine from my Mom’s giant garage sale before selling her house. It needs to be bent back into shape after I use it, but I just like the way it feels in my hand. Don’t ever use a machine to mash your potatoes.

Milk, butter, cream, etc: This is the subject of intense debate in the mashed potato community. The answer? It depends. I tend to never use butter, instead going for the milk and cream. The amount of each depends on your situation. Use just milk if you’re counting calories — but counting calories and eating mashed potatoes don’t really go together, do they? Add equal amounts of each until it looks right. As for salt and pepper, just do it to taste. You can’t make mashed potatoes without tasting them.

There, now you know. Are you happy now? By the way, if you’re one of those people who would put instant mashed potatoes on the table, I have one question: are you nuts? Next time we learn to make gravy.

11 thoughts on “The Potato Chronicles

  1. carmelized onions go great in mashed taters, another trick is to smash the garlic and then put in the water with the spuds and mash it all together. Also, I’ve use buttermilk and low fat sour cream at times instead of cream…but…never skimp on the butter…that is a must.

  2. I’m one of those weird people who don’t like mashed potatoes. They just bore me. But when potatoes are just coming into the farmer’s market I like to boil baby potatoes, skin on and then use and old school masher to pound some butter, olive oil and basil into them. I leave them chunky and sprinkle with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper. That’s pretty much the only way I like them. Although my daughter once made bacon and cheddar smashed potatoes that were phenomenal but uh, I don’t even want to guess how many calories were in them.

  3. Oh, I love mashed potatoes but now am limited as to how much I can consume. Miss the days when they were a meal for me. Thanks for the memories.

  4. The strangest thing I ever tried in them was cream cheese.

    I’d read about this in Cook’s Illustrated, which if you haven’t read it, is the best cooking magazine. If you like Alton Brown, you’d love Cooks Illustrated.

    The cream cheese gave the potatoes a nice little tartness, like you’d get from sour cream. It also made for a beautiful consistency — but my wife swore if she ever saw me putting cream cheese in the mashed potatoes again I’d be banished from the kitchen.

  5. I think the gravey should have come before the mashed potatoes. Taters without gravey?

    When I experimental cook, I do it before my wife gets home from work, and hide the incriminating ingrediants.

    Wish I could join you all tonight, but I’m being held hostage by Thomas the Train and a 3 year old, somewhere in the land of Kokopelli.

  6. I put a scoop of mayonnaise, along with the other standard stuff, in it and it gives it a great flavor.

  7. WOW Rob, I liked you when I met you but now I think I love you!! LOL!
    I love love love mashed potatoes!
    And the best way to have them is hand mashed. There’s something about getting a lumpy bite that adds to the meal. Michael tends to use a mixer for them and they’re so smooth I can swallow them like soup. It’s just not the same.
    They sound delicious. I wish you HAD brought them last night!!
    Can’t wait to see your gravy recipe….

  8. Kudos to you for weighing-in on mashed potatoes. Bringing up different takes on this simple dish is kind of like offering an unsolicited opinion on religion and politics. At our family reunions, the mashed potato discussion skips detente and negotiation, and goes straight to armed conflict.

    Gonna try cream cheese and horseradish, but I’m adding some shredded cheddar, too.

  9. I actually don’t make mashed potatoes.
    But a few of my friends and family make them a ton.
    Their tips are as follows:

    – Boil the potatoes whole, lest some of their flavor boil away into the water.

    – The implements of choice are the food mill and potato ricer.

    – My cousin’s secret ingredient is yogurt (as a traditionally I was horrified to hear this, especially since I enjoyed it so much).

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