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Old 06-28-2009, 07:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Mashed Potatoes -- Something missing?

I made a country dinner tonight for Magpie and I. Breaded drumsticks and mashed potatoes.

The drumsticks turned out good. The mashed potatoes did too, I suppose. My problem is that I don't do mashed potatoes often enough to really have a recipe for them -- I just mash them and throw a couple things in the bowl. Tonight it was milk (naturally), parsley and crushed garlic. They turned out well enough, but when I tasted them I felt like they were missing something and I couldn't quite peg it.

So I turn to the true experts on TFP. What do you put in your mashed potatoes?
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Old 06-28-2009, 07:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sour cream, and/or melted butter.
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Old 06-28-2009, 07:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've found with mashed potatoes that simplicity wins the race...

I always do milk, butter (Which seems like a given to me, but it looks like you didn't use it. This could be why you feel it was lacking. Butter is where a lot of the flavor in mashed potatoes comes from.), a little salt 'n' peppa' (I like white pepper the best), and garlic in some form (If you use garlic salt, don't add additional salt). Also, I like red potatoes the best for mashing. There's no need to peel them, because the peels are very tasty and add a bit of nice color.

I also prefer a little cream cheese in my mashed potatoes, but this is not for everybody, it seems...
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I wasn't taught to use butter. Milk is just to give them that smooth, creamy consistency.

I like the sound of cream cheese, and may have to try that. Salt and pepper are added after serving, because my preferences are different from Magpie's on those.

I put garlic in almost everything, and am very particular about it. Unless the recipe calls specifically for garlic taste packaged in a dry format (ie for dry rubs), it's fresh garlic only.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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...i use Idaho Baking Potatoes for starters...then plenty of butter, sourcream, milk, salt, and pepper. I use skim milk...and the butter i use is Earth Balance (has no transfat in it). I don't cut corners with sour cream though...forget lowfat.

...don't skimp...potatoes really absorb a lot.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian View Post
I wasn't taught to use butter. Milk is just to give them that smooth, creamy consistency.

I like the sound of cream cheese, and may have to try that.
Cream cheese works just fine on it's own for that flavor mashed potatoes lack without some kind of fat.

Quote:
Salt and pepper are added after serving, because my preferences are different from Magpie's on those.
I understand this with the salt, but white pepper is very different from table pepper. It's more in the spice area and you won't get the full effect of its flavor unless it's involved in the preparation process.

Quote:
I put garlic in almost everything, and am very particular about it. Unless the recipe calls specifically for garlic taste packaged in a dry format (ie for dry rubs), it's fresh garlic only.
I'm very much the same way. I just wanted to point out that garlic salt already has plenty of salt in it, so no more would be needed.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Four suggestions in addition to the above:

o Buttermilk instead of milk! Gives a little bit of a tang. Not really a good idea if you don't keep buttermilk around for other things (aka: pancakes!). Sour cream works too. So is cream. Mashed potatoes are supposed to be rich and fattier than sin, right?
o It's a lot more work, but try it:
- Steam (instead of boiling) the potatoes for 5-10 min (depending on how small you cut them.
- Dump them into a colander, rinse, and steam them again until done.
- Mash as usual.
I learned the above from Cook's Illustrated. It's more work than mashed potatoes have any right to be, but it really brings out the potato flavor. Apparently the starch in potatoes interferes with the flavor, and the rinsing step rinses off most of the starch. I do this on occasion, but as I said...more work than mashed potatoes have any right to be.
o Roast the garlic, or fry it for a few minutes in the butter you're about to use.
o Dill! Fresh if you've got it. Dill + potatoes = magic.

On a completely different tangent - mashed cauliflower! Different texture and flavor, but pretty good stuff.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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On a completely different tangent - mashed cauliflower! Different texture and flavor, but pretty good stuff.
I didn't know other people liked this...

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Old 06-28-2009, 09:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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When I was living with my friend last year, we would occasionally run out of things like milk and butter. One of these times I used a little bit of skim milk and a bit of low fat caesar dressing to make the potatoes, and they were rich and creamy and delicious. I'd do it again even if I didn't run out of butter.
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Choose the right potatoes. Yukon Gold, Russet or any starchy potatoe will do (the red skinned ones are great for potato salad but not for mashing).

Steam or boil but don't over cook them. I tend to leave the skin on mine but that's my preference.

I use a ricer to mash mine but anything from a fork on up will do the trick. I just find that a ricer gives a uniform consistency.

What to use when adding flavour? Anything goes. Potatoes are a base. I personally love the flavour of roast garlic and some chopped rosemary or thyme.

My basic recipe uses butter and milk. This should always be warmed first as you don't want to cool your potatoes. I have also used sour cream, cream cheese, boursin (cheese), full cream or half and half (instead of milk).

Don't forget to season with salt and pepper.

And taste it before you serve to see if you need more of something.
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The only thing I can add is to throw the garlic in with the potatoes as you boil them. The garlic mashes really well with the potatoes and permeates the entire batch.
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Onions, garlic, cheeses, creams, peppers, salsa... the list is endless. Potatoes go with basically anything, especially mashed. My personal favorite is garlic, onions, green bell pepper, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. And I leave in the skins, of course.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:40 PM   #13 (permalink)
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boil your potatoes in salty water. water should be salty like the sea (same as for pasta). the potatoes will absorb the salt.

after you drain them, put the potatoes back in the pot dry over low heat to dry them out a bit. add butter and heavy cream. taste them, and if you need more, add more salt.

if you wanna try something a bit different, same as above and add wasabi. wasabi mashed potatoes kick ass like a pack of ninjas.

and get a ricer. not just because you wanna be like charlatan, but also because its great for mashed potatoes and gnocci, as well as other things.
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Old 06-29-2009, 01:29 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Squeeb... thanks for the reminder on the salt water and also about putting them back into the pot to dry them a bit. I do this as well.

A local restaurant has a wasabi mashed potato paired with salmon that is very nice.
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Old 06-29-2009, 02:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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brummel and brown margarine (it's a little saltier), a splash of milk, minced garlic and scallions that have been sauteed a bit, oregano, basil, and usually a little cheese (parmesan or sharp cheddar... or roasted garlic white cheddar if I'm being fancy) tossed in with partially skinned and chunked potatoes boiled with 1/2t of sriracha, oregano and salt in the water.
I use a hand mixer and add the cheese last, if being used. I like mine chunky.
Parmesan gives a little tang.
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Old 06-29-2009, 07:52 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Try heating up your milk and butter before you add them to your hot potatoes, it ends up blending better and giving it a smoother flavor instead of a harsh dairy taste to it. Don't boil it, just heat it up enough for the butter to melt into the milk. Add a little at a time or if you are using a machine to mix them, slowly add it as it mixes. Heavy cream mixed in can give it a heavier dairy taste to it, I like it like that. Screw Skim Milk, that shit is for the hippies. I'm 100% full cow milk.

Again, squeeeb and Charlatan are right with everything they posted. Ricer is important in my book because of it's many uses. Seriously, I'm thinking of writing a script for Tilted Food that says "Whatever those two guys said."

I'm against putting cheese on your mash potatoes, I think the milk/cream you add to it should make the side stand up on it's own, but to each his own. Adding cheese like that is a catch-all for adding favor to a dish (unless it is required for the dish). If you do add it, do it at the end. After you have made the mash, have a separate bowl to add the cheese and mix it.

You should ALWAYS salt and pepper your food before you serve it. Salt goes in EVERYTHING (baring a medical conditions or anything your doctor told you about your diet, Blah Blah Blah) and that includes baking/sauces/any boiled item. I seriously got hit with a pair of tongs by a chef because I wasn't salting my water I was using to reheat pasta and blanch veggies. Potatoes soak up alot of salt while they are cooking. Cooking for one person inparticular (SO, roommate, couch surfer) everyday? Cook something like this, let them salt/pepper it to their taste, then you taste it. Now you know how they like their food, spice to that point at all times.

I LOVE rosemary, it goes well with any red meat and sometimes chicken. Garlic and rosemary mash pots is one of my favorite side items. Oregano/basil/thyme are great to add to pots. Also make alot of mash at a time, leftover mash potatoes have so many uses. Twice baked potatoes are great and my personal favorite, Shepard's Pie! Hell, just take the leftover mash, mold it into any shape you want and throw it in the deep fryer. Tastes great and makes simple plates look like your a 3-star chef. Fry them in stick looking form or in ball form. If you want to get really fancy, form them into pear shapes, deep fry them, then put a clove at the top of it. Looks like a pear and with the right veggies, it makes your plate look freaking great.
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Old 06-29-2009, 02:49 PM   #17 (permalink)
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the secret to mash out here is butter and nutmeg. Seriously it tastes great with nutmeg.

I boil my potatoes in salted water then mash them up. I add butter, salt and pepper to taste, and then a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Sometimes I will add a little milk for more creaminess but with good quality potatoes, it's not necessary.
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Old 06-29-2009, 03:24 PM   #18 (permalink)
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REAL butter is an important addition to mashed potatoes. I prefer to use sour cream or half and half to get my mashed potatoes creamy.

And Charlatan's suggestions of Russets or Yukons are good ones--both make excellent mashed potatoes. Just be careful with the Russets--sometimes if you cook them too long, the cells of the potato will burst, release too much starch, and then you will end up with gummy potatoes. This can also occur if you mash them too much. Using a ricer, like Charlatan also suggested, will help you avoid this problem.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:37 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I use half cream/half vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you aren't vegetarian). Garlic, butter, salt and black pepper. That's my recipe for "plain" mashed potatoes. I pretty much only use Yukon Golds for mashing.

My favorite addition is garam masala when I don't want plain potatoes.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:20 AM   #20 (permalink)
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If the potatoes are to be really mashed, I've been known to use with the milk and butter; shredded cheese, garlic and mayo. If the potatoes are a "rough" mash like with red potatoes, than I will use no milk, but olive oil, salt, pepper and basil leaves or tarragon leaves.
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Old 07-01-2009, 12:45 PM   #21 (permalink)
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The only thing I can add is to throw the garlic in with the potatoes as you boil them. The garlic mashes really well with the potatoes and permeates the entire batch.
This sounds like a great trick! I'm going to have to try it out.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:07 PM   #22 (permalink)
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We had our work christmas party here last year:
Guillaume at Bennelong - Sydney Opera House, Australia

OMG the mash was fantastic! I saw the chef from here on TV and this is what he does:

1. boil potatoes with the skin on
2. when cooked, peel the potatoes and push the potatoes threw a sieve.
3. boil milk in one saucepan
4. put another pot onto the stove on low heat and put the potato in and stir
5. pour in the milk mixture and cold (salted) butter while stirring furiously.
6. serve

What point 5 does is blend the butter and milk with the potato, but also reduce the amount of liquid in it.

edit: I found a video of this - it is a beef bourguignon with mash - the mash starts at about 2:30.

http://www.sbs.com.au/food/foodsafar...ef_bourguignon

This is basically what I do at home (though I peel my potatoes and just use a masher rather than a sieve), and I just add the butter and cream (or usually full cream milk) straight into the pot, then stir.

It will come out really creamy and not sloppy at all
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