Mashed potatoes are so simple to make and are a tasty companion to virtually any mid century meal.
The American Vegetable That the English Perfected (Maybe)
Like many foods, mashed potatoes have many people, countries and continents vying for the credit of creating them. The potato was a new world native taken to Europe, perhaps by the Spaniards. It quickly became a favorite throughout the new continent as well. Legend has it that there was a cooking competition hosted by a Frenchman in the mid-1800's that led to the recipe we know today.
The mid century time in America saw a shift in culture. Some families continued to make food from scratch, while others took advantage of the modern convenience of prepared foods. My family, being from from the farms of Kentucky, always made potatoes from scratch. But Nancy's family in Chicago worked, so her mother didn't always have time to make things from scratch and turned to the convenience of instant potato flakes. Nancy was pretty surprised when she visited my family for the first time and tasted freshly made mashed potatoes.
Just a Few Simple Ingredients
As you might imagine, aside from potatoes there are only a few dairy ingredients needed to make traditional mashed potatoes:
- Medium russet potatoes
Tips for Successful Mashed Potatoes
Keep in mind that most recipes describe the size of the potatoes as 'medium' or 'large', but this is a fairly subjective measurement. So remember to be flexible in the amount of dairy ingredients you'll need depending on the size of potatoes used. Just remember to:
- Adjust butter/milk measurements slightly if necessary to accommodate various sized potatoes.
- Discard potato peels in the trash can and not the garbage disposal, because they can really clog up your disposal.
- Add warm dairy products only, then mash by hand with a potato masher OR mix with an electric mixer just until blended. Cold products or over mashing can result in a gluey consistency.
This long time staple of dinners is economical and easy to make, and leftovers keep well for 3-5 days when covered and refrigerated. Simply reheat by adding a little milk to the cold potatoes and warming on the stovetop.
You can also use leftover mashed potatoes to make this delicious old-time southern recipe for potato pancakes.
What else did your family add mashed potatoes? Cheddar cheese? Chives?Print
Mashed potatoes are a perfect complement to virtually any main dish. This versatile vegetable plays a supporting role to meat, chicken and fish without overpowering the taste.
6 medium or 3 large potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup milk
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Peel potatoes and remove any dark spots.
- Cut into ½ inch slices, then cut slices into quarters.
- Add potatoes to a large pot of water; add ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when a knife is inserted inside - approximately 30 minutes.
- Drain potatoes in a colander, then move them to a large mixing bowl. Put butter and milk in microwavable safe container and heat in microwave 45 seconds - 1 minute, until milk is hot and butter is melted.
- Remove butter mixture from microwave and stir in salt until dissolved. Add to bowl with potatoes.
- Mash with potato masher or mix with an electric mixer just until light and fluffy. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
Place a wooden spoon on lip of cooker to keep water from boiling over as potatoes cook - it is said that a wooden spoon helps absorb some of the heat.
We prefer to use Russet baking potatoes when making this dish (they result in the fluffiest potatoes due to their low moisture and high starch content), but Yukon Gold work well, too.
Feel free to add things like cheddar cheese and sour cream to your potatoes when serving to give them a punch of flavor.
Keywords: Hearty, Mashed, Potatoes, vegetable side dish, vegetarian side dish