Sunday, November 23, 2014

Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish: Mashed Potatoes - Make Ahead Tips!

Don't you just love a potato?

Potatoes today symbolize comfort, especially around the holidays.  They are earthy-tasting, easy to prepare, and are compatible with many other foods and adaptable to all sorts of cooking methods.

Let's talk a little about potatoes...
There are three basic types of potato varieties: starchy, waxy, and all-purpose.

  • Starchy or mealy potatoes, such as russets, are best for baking and mashing because they cook up dry and fluffy, but do not hold their shape well.
  • Waxy potatoes, such as red or white potatoes, are low in starch.  Use them for potato salads and other recipes where you want them to hold their shape and are not relying on their starch content to thicken a soup or sauce. (Great for roasting!)
  • All-purpose potatoes have a medium starch content and are good for both uses.  Yukon Golds are among the best known.
Select potatoes that are firm, not blemished, wrinkled, tinged with green, or cracked.  The eyes, of the potatoes should not have sprouted.

Store them in a cool dark place with good circulation for up to 2 weeks. Don't put them with onions!  These two veggies together produce gases that cause rapid spoilage.  Best when used 2 or 3 days from purchase for their fresh sweet flavor and texture.

Mashed Potato Techniques

Cooking the Potatoes:  Boiling whole potatoes with their skins on keeps the potatoes from becoming waterlogged, improving the texture of the final dish, and help to prevent nutrients from being lost in the water.  If you want to boil peeled potatoes, cut them into small cubs so that they cook quickly and are exposed to the water as briefly as possible.

Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma


  • Ricing, hand mashing, using a's up to you and what you prefer. 
  • One great tip is to melt your butter and heat some half and half or cream with it to a warm temperature.  When you add warm milk and butter as you are mashing the potatoes they will stay nice and hot. 

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This has been my go to method for several years now and they always turn out wonderful!  

1.  Boil and mash your potatoes early in the day.  
2.  Then place the completed dish in a crock pot on low.  
3.  Add a little cream on top and let them sit there until dinner time. (I would say for 5 hours at most)  
4.  Stir and serve.  You will always have HOT potatoes!

My favorite Mashed Potato recipes

Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root
by Williams-Sonoma

Also known as celeriac, celery root is a knobby, round winter vegetable that contributes a subtle celery flavor to purees when cooked and a crisp crunch to salads when used raw. In this recipe, celery root is mashed with potatoes, giving the dish a lighter texture than if potatoes alone were used, and an interesting, fresh taste that matches well with full-flavored foods such as roast turkey. Both peeled celery root and potatoes discolor quickly when exposed to air and should be immersed in water if not cooked at once to prevent discoloring.

2 large celery roots, about 2 lb. total, peeled and cut into slices 1 inch thick 
2 1/2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into slices 1 inch thick
Kosher salt, to taste
3/4 cup half-and-half
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Put the celery roots and potatoes in separate large saucepans. Add water to cover and a large pinch of kosher salt to each pan. Bring both to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Just before they are done, place an ovenproof serving bowl in a 200°F oven. (There is no need to preheat the oven.)

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the half-and-half and 2 Tbs. of the butter and heat until the butter melts. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm. Drain the potatoes and celery root, then return them to one of the large saucepans and set over medium-low heat; shake the pan until the vegetables begin to stick to the bottom. Remove from the heat.

Pass the vegetables through a ricer into the warmed serving bowl. Alternatively, pass the vegetables through a food mill, or mash them in the pan with a potato masher. Stir in the warm half-and-half mixture. Season with kosher salt and white pepper. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and swirl the top of the puree. Top with the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and serve immediately. If necessary, keep warm in a 200°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or cover the bowl and set it in a pan of hot water.

Classic Mashed Potatoes
by Williams-Sonoma

5 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups half-and-half, heated
salt & pepper

Put the potatoes and the 2 tsp. salt in a large pot, add water to cover the potatoes by 3 inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well in a colander.

Place hot potatoes in the large bowl of a mixer.  Mix on medium low speed until potatoes are smooth.  Add butter and a little half and half at a time until your desired consistency is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.
Picture courtesy of Southern

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