SUNDAY TIMES - How to make the perfect mashed potatoes
Sunday Times Food By Hilary Biller, 2016-04-27 00:00:00.0

How to make the perfect mashed potatoes

Image: iStock

It should be a doddle but too many bowls of gloopy mess means there’s an art to making the perfected mashed potatoes. Here are eight tips that'll help you nail it every time

1) Use the correct variety of potato

SA consumers are fooled into believing that all potatoes are one of the same because not all potatoes are labeled. Look out for potatoes that indicate they are good for mashing.

2) Don't peel the potatoes before boiling

Contrary to what you have always believed, DON’T peel the potatoes before boiling them as this keeps the starch in the potato and prevents it from absorbing water.

Wash the potatoes, keep them whole, place in a pan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a rolling boil and boil till the potatoes are tender (not falling apart) when pierced with a knife or fork.

Drain them well.

3) Dry boiled potatoes off in a warm pan

Once you've drained the cooked potatoes, return them to a dry pan and allow to dry out on the residual heat on the stove top.

4) Peel & mash the potatoes while they're still warm

Don’t cool the potatoes completely as cold potatoes don’t make good mash even with re-heating.

When just cool enough to handle, peel off the skins which is easily done with your fingers and cut the potatoes into blocks. Place in a bowl, then mash.

5) Don't use a food processor

Electric mixers, food processors or blenders may seem like the easy way out but the vigorous blending process can make the potatoes  gluey and gloopy.

The best tools are an old fashioned potato masher (and some elbow grease) or a potato ricer which looks like a food mouli – the cooked potato is  pressed through the extrusions which gives a really smooth mash.

6) Add the butter before the milk

Once you've mashed the potatoes, add a generous knob of real butter and mix through with a wooden spoon. It's essential to do this before adding milk as the fat can then coat the starch particles resulting in a really silky mash.

You'll need about 60g of butter (or more)  for 6 large potatoes.

7) Warm the milk

You'll need about 185ml (¾ cup) milk for 6 large potatoes; this must be WARMED before it's mixed through the mashed potatoes.

8) Think beyond salt and pepper

It's essential to season your mash generously with salt and pepper. That said, you can also add extra flavour with ingredients like grated cheese, ready-made mustard, creamed horseradish, finely chopped fresh herbs and pesto.