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ANNUAL THANKSGIVING HANDBOOK : POTATOES : Mash It Light

November 19, 1995

It's a question of consistency. Is it better to go smooth and sophisticated or lumpy and homey?

Then there is the question of the proper utensil. Masher, ricer, blender or fork?

It's all a matter of personal style. But we do advise using baking potatoes (also known as non-waxy, mealy or floury) rather than boiling potatoes for mashing. Baking potatoes--russets are a common variety of this type--have a low sugar and high starch content, which helps give the potatoes a smoother texture when mashed with hot milk. Be sure to select potatoes that are firm and free from large cuts, growth cracks and sprouting eyes. Avoid any with green-tinged skins.

Note that the more liquid used when mashing, the creamier and thinner the end product. The amount needed also depends on the potatoes.

MASHED POTATOES

6 medium baking potatoes

Water

Salt

1/2 to 3/4 cup hot milk, evaporated milk, half and half or whipping cream

1/4 cup butter, about

Pepper

Cook potatoes either by boiling or steaming.

To boil, cook potatoes in heavy saucepan with tight-fitting lid with about 1 inch boiling, salted water until fork-tender. If whole, cook 30 to 40 minutes. If cut up, cook 20 to 25 minutes. If lid doesn't fit tightly, water may boil away. Check occasionally and add more water if necessary.

To steam, place wire rack on bottom of kettle or large saucepan and add water to just below level of rack. Bring water to boil, add potatoes and cook, tightly covered, until fork-tender. If whole, cook 30 to 45 minutes, or cut up, 20 to 30 minutes. If lid is not tight-fitting, check occasionally to see if water should be added.

Peel potatoes (this can also be done before cooking). Use potato masher, electric mixer or ricer to mash potatoes.

With potato masher, press utensil into potatoes in downward motion, forcing potatoes through cutting grid. With electric mixer, begin by mashing potatoes slightly with stationary beaters. Turn mixer on low speed and whip to desired consistency. With ricer, place boiled potatoes in perforated cylinder, then squeeze long handles together to force contents through ricer holes. Let rice-like pieces mound in serving dish.

Beating with masher, mixer or wooden spoon, gradually add heated milk, evaporated milk, half and half or whipping cream, according to taste. Potatoes will be creamier and thinner if more liquid is used. Finish with softened butter to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately or spoon into buttered casserole and smooth light film of cream over top. Keep warm in oven heated to 250 degrees. Cover with towel to absorb steam.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

250 calories; 216 mg sodium; 33 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.73 gram fiber.

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