Instant potatoes are simply not an option for me. As much as people insist you can’t tell the difference, I can. Really, there isn’t any substitute for real mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic solution to peeling, boiling, and mashing. However, I have found a trick for myself that allows me to have them on my table a few minutes after I decide to serve them.
The main trouble I have with real mashed potatoes is I often don’t decide I want them until about ten minutes before I serve dinner. Or, when I’m being ultra efficient by using a crock pot, the main main part of the dinner is ready when I walk in the door, but I still have another forty five minutes to go before the potatoes are ready.
Another drawback with homemade mashed potatoes is that they really heat up the kitchen in the summertime, even though sometimes they’re all I want with a good plate of barbecue.
My trick is similar to the one I use for brown rice. Whenever I find a good day to make them, I cook at least three times the amount that would feed my family, and then freeze whatever is left over in separate containers. Whenever I need mashed potatoes in a pinch, I simply pull a container of it out of the freezer, pop the lid so air can escape, and then microwave it for about 4-5 minutes.
Here is my recipe for your own version of perfect mashed potatoes:
potatoes, as many as will fit in your pot. You can use russet potatoes or Yukon Gold (pictured)
other stuff, if you want, such as buttermilk, sour cream, or cream cheese
1. Peel potatoes (or don’t, it’s up to you. But if you do leave the skins on for your mashed potatoes, make sure you always cut the potatoes before throwing them in the pot. Unpeeled potatoes boiled whole will result in gluey mashed potatoes).
2. Slice the potatoes 1/2 inch thick. Rinse, and place in a large pot. Cover potatoes with cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. When water comes to a boil, add in a tablespoon of salt. Boil potatoes until tender and will split down the center when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.
3. Drain potatoes in a colander, and press through a ricer or a food mill (Never use a food processor, or you’ll get gummy potatoes).
4. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and add in melted butter and milk. Depending on how many potatoes you make, this may be anywhere from 4-12 tablespoons of butter, and up to a cup of milk. Be very careful adding the milk, though. Adding too much can really ruin the potatoes, so start small, adding about a 1/2 a cup at first, and then gradually adding more until you achieve the consistency you want. Whisk the potatoes until light and fluffy. Then taste. If they are too dry, add a little milk, or cream. If they aren’t flavorful enough, you may want to add more butter, or more salt or pepper. This may be a time to get crazy and toss in some sour cream or buttermilk or cream cheese.
5. Serve the potatoes and freeze the leftovers in separate microwave safe containers. To reheat, pop the lid to allow steam to escape and microwave on high for 2-4 minutes. Mix with a fork and reheat again for a minute or two to make sure they are heated evenly.