Potatoes: Mash ’em While They’re Hot

Cooking How-To, How-To, Recipes
on August 27, 2012
Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Who doesn’t crave mashed potatoes? While they are easy (and relatively quick) to make, we’ve all had both disappointments and stars. So what is the key to making creamy, light, fluffy, flavorful and intensely satisfying mashed potatoes?

The secret is not the recipe, but rather the technique—and, most importantly, the heat. The number one rule is to keep the potatoes really hot during the whole preparation. If they start to cool, they’ll get gluey. Follow these steps for truly memorable mashed potatoes:

  • Choose russet potatoes. They are the driest, which means they will make fluffy potatoes and absorb lots of flavorful ingredients. (Other potatoes, such as Yukon golds, work well too, but the results will be less fluffy.)
  • Cook large chunks of peeled potatoes in salted water just until they are soft. Overcooking yields water-logged, runny potatoes. Once they are cooked, drain them immediately and really well.
  • Mash the potatoes with a potato masher over low heat. Remember: The potatoes must always be steaming hot.• Keeping with our heat theme, add only hot milk to the potatoes. Stirring in cold milk can destroy hopes of light and fluffy potatoes.
  • Mashed potatoes can be chilled and reheated later. The key is to reheat them in the oven or microwave and to avoid stirring them until they are hot.

—By Chef Chris Koetke, dean of the School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College, Chicago, Ill.