—This post is part of my Canadian Thanksgiving series—
I’m easy when it comes to mashed potatoes – I’ve pretty much never met a mashed potato I didn’t love, from super-buttery, creamy restaurant style to my healthier, minimal butter, skins-included Smashed Potatoes. I really am telling the truth when I say that I enjoy my healthier version just as much, but I’ve been told (by hubby of course) that most people prefer the smoother, more buttery variety. So for our Thanksgiving meal, I tried to find a middle ground – I was not about to pour a carton of heavy cream into my potatoes, but I thought a little extra butter could be nice, and decided we could leave the skins off this time.
I ended up finding a recipe on Epicurious promising a silky texture that got fabulous reviews. I was sold on this recipe after reading the instructions to use a food mill or potato ricer instead of a masher. You see, over the summer, in preparation for our big move out of the city to a home with an actual back deck and grill, hubby and I signed up for a grilling class at the Institute of Culinary Education (which has great recreational classes, by the way). The class didn’t quite give us the foundation we were looking for in how to grill, but we did make an amazing “mashed potato salad” that required cooking potatoes, skin on, simply cut in half, and then pressed through a potato ricer to remove the skin and “mash” all in one go. This method really did produce amazingly smooth results, and I loved the idea of not having to peel raw potatoes or chop into small pieces Thanksgiving day.
These potatoes came out fabulous. I was happy because they had what I considered a reasonable amount of butter, and called for milk instead of cream, but I don’t think even the most die-hard mashed potato fanatics could have complained that they weren’t luscious enough. Using a ricer instead of mashing really does produce an amazing texture, and the ratio of added fat/liquid was perfect, although I think if you’re not making these for a special occasion you could easily use less butter and/or low fat milk with great results. As I hoped, it was nice not having to peel potatoes or do more than cut them in half in advance, but I will give one warning – try to find the biggest Yukon Gold potatoes you can find – I ended up buying a 5 lb bag that had tiny little ones, and ricing each little half was a bit of a painful job (for hubby). With bigger potatoes, it would have been half as much work!
Silky Smooth Mashed Potatoes
adapted from Epicurious
2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (preferably large)
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper
Special equipment: a potato ricer*
Wash potatoes and cut in half across the equator. Place in a large pot and add cold water up to 1 inch above potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, approx 10 to 15 minutes (but this will vary based on the size of your potatoes, so check every few minutes – overcooked potatoes will become waterlogged).
Drain potatoes in a colander, shaking to dry as thoroughly as possible (alternatively, you could return them to the hot pot to dry and then transfer to a bowl, but I didn’t find this step necessary). While potatoes are draining, add milk, butter, salt, and pepper to pot and warm over moderate heat until butter is melted.
Place each potato half in the ricer with the cut side towards the holes and squeeze into the hot milk mixture – the skin will simply stay in the ricer and only the insides of the potato will go through. Remove skin from ricer and repeat until you’ve finished all of the potatoes. Gently stir with a large heatproof rubber spatula just until combined. Taste and season with additional salt and/or pepper as needed.
Do ahead: Potatoes can be cut and sit in cold water for an hour or so before cooking. They are best served immediately, but this recipe on Epicurious suggests a reheating process (which I have not tested!) if you just have too much else going on at the last minute.
* I think the ricer is important to the texture achieved with this recipe, but if you don’t have one and don’t want to buy one (like I did for this meal!) reviews on Epicurious suggest that just peeling and mashing the potatoes as you normally would will still yield great results.
** I tripled this recipe for my Thanksgiving crowd of 10 adults and 5 kids/toddlers and had plenty of leftovers; if not serving for a holiday meal with lots of other sides, there would probably not be much leftover.