For a fluffier texture, run the potatoes through a ricer. (Stephen Osman / Los Angeles…)
Properly made, comfort food is an art. Mashed potatoes are no exception. And while personal preference may have a lot to do with what you might consider the "perfect" mash -- do you like your potatoes smooth or lumpy? Creamy or fluffy? -- there are nevertheless some tips you can follow to elevate your spuds above the rest of the pack:
- What potatoes do I use? For light or delicate mashed potatoes, use bakers, like russets. With their high starch content and low sugar, they'll whip up nice and fluffy, perfect for soaking in all the cream, butter and sour cream you can throw at 'em. If you prefer mashed potatoes that are denser, like those trendy "smashed potatoes," use boilers.
- Whether to keep the skin on is one of those personal preference things. I usually peel if the potatoes have thicker skins (the skins can be a bit chewy); if I'm using thin-skinned potatoes, and am going for a more rustic look, I'll leave them on.
- Store peeled potatoes in a bowl of cool water (make sure they're immersed) before cooking to keep them from browning.
- Don't cut the potatoes before boiling them; cook them whole. Cutting the potatoes makes them more likely to soak up water as they cook, making for soggy mashed potatoes.
- For a fluffier texture, run the potatoes through a ricer (pictured at left). It's easy to overwork the potatoes using an electric mixer, which can make them gummy.
- Mash the potatoes while they're still hot, before they've had a chance to cool. Mashing while hot will give the potatoes a lighter, fluffier texture.
- Add butter for richness and cream or milk to give the potatoes the desired consistency. For a little tang, you might try adding sour cream or yogurt to your potatoes.
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