Growing and Cooking the Best Mashed Potatoes

Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by Annette Welsford No Comments
Potatoes are a staple and potentially delicious food, although a large number of people are surprisingly unimaginative and uninventive when it comes to cooking processes.
 
Mashed potato is a perfect example of a dish that may be totally mundane, or marvellously cordon bleu!
 
At its most mundane, mashed potato is made by boiling the tuber and then adding a knob of butter or yellow margarine, plus salt and pepper to taste. Many people also add a bit of milk or cream before mashing. There's nothing to it really, except that if you don't mash it thoroughly, and season it tastefully, you're going to end up with tasteless, lumpy mush.
 

Top Tips for the Best Mash

There are several very simple tips that will help you to make a tasty, super-smooth, delicious mashed potato dish.
  • Choose a potato that has been bred for mashing.
  • Place the potatoes in cold salted water before bringing the water to the boil. NEVER place them in water that is already boiling.
  • Consider what you are going to add to the mash to improve or simply add flavour.
  •  Mash the cooked potatoes with a fork or masher – don't use a liquidiser otherwise it will become gummy.

Different Uses for Different Potatoes

It is remarkable how many different varieties of potato there are. Not only has the common potato been bred in numerous colours, shapes and sizes, varieties have also been developed for different uses – including mashing.
 
Generally the colour of a potato will indicate the type and colour flesh you can expect to find. For instance white (so-called Irish) potatoes have either white or yellow flesh and can be used for most potato dishes. Red-skinned potatoes have flesh that varies from white or yellow to red or pink, and it may be starchy or waxy. Russet potatoes on the other hand generally have brown skins, and the flesh is starchy.
 
If you are going to bake potatoes you should aim for a tuber that will not only mature to a decent size, but its skin should be coarse and the flesh firm and high in starch. The same type of potatoes may also be used for frying and for mashing.
 
Potatoes for boiling should be waxy rather than starchy, and they should have a high sugar content. These work well in casseroles and potato salad, but don't fry or roast very successfully.
 
Ideal potatoes for frying and roasting will be floury. When cooked they will break apart if they have been boiled or put into casseroles, but they are generally delicious when baked, fried or roasted.
 

Cooking the Best Mash

Clearly there is no one potato or one single recipe that will produce the best mashed potato ever.
But here is a dish that we absolutely love. It uses a Dutch-bred variety called Lady Rosetta which has a red skin and dark yellow floury flesh. This potato variety (if you can find it where you live) is a tasty option for baking as well as frying crisps, and also results in a delicious mash.

Lady Rosetta was nominated as one of the tastiest potatoes in Europe not that long ago.

You will need about eight nice-sized potatoes (be guided by the picture), a head of garlic, about two tablespoons of butter, milk, salt and coarsely crushed black pepper.

 
Peel and boil the potatoes while you roast the garlic (drizzled with a little virgin olive oil) in an oven preheated to 350 °F/180 °C for about 40 minutes until soft. Drain the potatoes and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into the potato. Add the milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash until smooth.
 
If you like the flavour of Parmesan or Pecorina cheese, stir in about a quarter cup of grated cheese before serving. ENJOY!
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