Saturday, October 29, 2011

Basic Mashed Potatoes

Anyone who has ever been served a bowl of instant mashed potatoes can tell you just how truly bland and lifeless the potatoes are.  Now, don't get me wrong, instant mashed potatoes do have their place in this world.  Make them a little thicker than normal and you have a substance that resembles the paste you used in elementary school, although my sister tells me the paste had a better flavor.

The funny thing is, real mashed potatoes can be made just as easily as the instant kind, and the amount of time it takes to prepare each is nearly the same.  The ingredients are even pretty much the same (salt, milk, and butter).    The only real difference is the packaging you have to open.  With instant potatoes, you have to open the box and then measure everything out in just the right proportions or you wind up with a gooey mess.  With the real McCoy, peeling is optional (washing, however, is not...scrub those spuds well), and the other ingredients are added to suit your tastes.

Once you have the basics down, you can start adding in other ingredients.  Sometimes I like to simply add a little extra butter and some parsley, other times some roasted garlic, or the granddaddy of them all, loaded mashed potatoes (reduce the milk, add sour cream, cheese, bacon, and chives).

Basic Mashed Potatoes
3 1/2 lbs potatoes
1 stick butter
3/4 cup milk or half-and-half

Scrub potatoes, peel if desired.  Cut potatoes into cubes no larger than 1 inch.  Place potatoes in saucepan and add just enough water to cover.  Add 1-1/2 tablespoons salt to water and bring to a boil.  Boil potatoes for 8-10 minutes, or until you can push a fork though a potato with ease.

Drain potatoes in colander.  Place potatoes back in pan and return to heat for about 2 minutes to remove any excess water.  Remove from heat.  Using potato masher, smash potatoes until all chunks are broken up.  Add butter and 1/2 cup milk or half-and-half.  Mash potatoes to desired consistency, adding additional milk or half-and-half as necessary.  Season to taste with salt.  Stir in any additions.

Parsley Mashed Potatoes

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