How To Master Mashed Potatoes
From pot roast to short ribs, Salisbury steak to fried chicken, mashed potatoes are a common side dish for many meals. Despite the sheer diversity, mashed potatoes are a somewhat sensitive dish to prepare. If you don’t get the ratio of ingredients just right, you can wind up with a soupy mess on your plate. Or, if you don’t mash the spuds properly, you’ll be dining on something more akin to a plate of boiled potatoes.
So, if you want to ensure perfect mashed potatoes each time, here are a few common missteps to avoid in the kitchen:
Always mix up your potatoes
When preparing mashed potatoes, most chefs will only cook with one specific kind of potato per recipe. However, as Bon Appetit noted, you need a variety of spuds if you want truly tasty mashed potatoes. That’s because different kinds of potatoes each have unique chemical components that add something to the final product. Waxy potatoes – like Yukon Gold – have a ton of flavor, but can get watered down if there are too many cooked together. Meanwhile, starch-heavy varieties, namely Idaho and Russet, result in nice, fluffy mashed potatoes. Using several different kinds will actually make for a more well-balanced dish. Other types worth experimenting with include red, purple, fingerling and white potatoes.
Never over-work your potatoes
As mentioned above, you want to find a balance between nice, smooth potatoes and having a little lumps for added texture. Every time you mash potatoes, you’re releasing the internal starches. The more the potato is mashed, the more starch is released, and that can make for increasingly gummy mashed potatoes overall. However, as The Kitchn noted, it isn’t just the mashing that can make your potatoes unappetizing. Even simply touching the veggie too much can release enough starch to ruin the meal. As such, it’s important to handle the potatoes with care. It also means avoiding the use of blenders, which don’t let you control how quickly or evenly the potatoes are mulled. Your best is bet are either potato ricers or food mills, both of which are much more deliberate tools.
Make sure you’ve got the right ingredients
Generally speaking, mashed potatoes require very few ingredients. However, not having the proper items, or using them somewhat ineffectively, can have a huge effect. To begin, ensure you have the right amount of either olive oil or clarified butter. Not only can an oil abundance actually burn the potatoes, this viscous liquid has a way of leaving a distinct aftertaste. To really spice things up, toss some sage or rosemary into the mix. Another common mistake for most chefs is to use only cold butter and cream in their recipes. Instead, you want these ingredients to be at room temperature before they are tossed into the pot. That way, they’ll blend with the potatoes more quickly and evenly.
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