feasting with friends

Cooking 101: Mashed Potatoes, the Basics

cooking 101: mashed potatoesShortly after our “I Do’s”, and a dinner of mystery meat and, ahem, “boxed” mashed potatoes that went uneaten, my groom informed me he only ate real mashed potatoes! What? Why? I mean, if these imposters were being sold in a grocery store they must be good, right? Well, not good enough for my dear husband Glenn! If we’re out to eat at diner type places, he always ask the waitstaff if they are “real” mashed potatoes before ordering. He can be quite persnickety! If they’re not “real” he will order baked or fried – thank you very much.
We have potatoes mashed, on average, once a week year round. Hmm, that’s 28 years of marriage, times 52 weeks in the year, carry the four…wow, 1,456 pots of mashed potatoes…amazing! So, anyways, I feel I have a pretty good handle on the basics;) I could make them with my eyes closed. What follows is the “basic” procedure I use. Keep in mind though, potatoes are mighty compatible with many add-ins. Shredded cheese, garlic sauteed in butter, sour cream, bacon bits, cream cheese, red pepper flakes, Greek yogurt, fresh herbs….you get the gist! We skip the gravy for most non-holiday meals they’re served, so I do jazz them up with various add-ins depending upon the rest of the meal. What follows is a serving for 4.


6 medium russet potatoes [Yukon gold, red skinned and white potatoes all work too]

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup milk [I use 1%]

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


Peel the potatoes. Cube in uniform sized pieces. Keep in mind, the smaller the cube [I like about 1/2-inch cubes] the faster “the cook”. Place potato cubes in a large pot.

Cover completely with water [I fill to at least 1-inch above potatoes to make up for any evaporation] and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until a few “test pieces” of potato are easily pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.

Drain well in a colander. Return potatoes to the pot and place back on the stove for 30 seconds or so, stirring the potatoes constantly. You are removing excess water, so you start the mashing with a “dry” potato. Remove from stove and set aside for next step.

Cut butter in small pieces, place in a measuring cup with the 1/4 cup milk. Microwave about 1 minute to completely melt the butter and warm the milk.

Pour the warmed butter/mixture over the potatoes, and mash well. Careful to scoop the potatoes around the edge of the pot and incorporate back in with the masses. Add salt and pepper to taste [and I mean “taste”, you won’t know if it’s enough if you don’t try them]. If potatoes are too thick for your liking, add more milk, about 1/2 Tablespoon at a time.

cooking 101: mashed potatoes

If the rest of your meal is not quite ready, no worries. Simply place the potatoes is a microwave safe dish and top with a couple of small pats off butter. Cover loosely and microwave on high about 1 minute for every 10 minutes they’ve been on “stand by”. Presto…they’ll be perfect.

You can easily “whip” up the potatoes using either a hand or stand mixer. This is the method I use for large quantities due to ease. Glenn prefers the consistency of potatoes when using a hand mash. So to keep him happy… for normal family dinners… I do what I have to do 🙂

P.S. Glenn is spoiled!


  1. Pingback: Chicken Shepherd’s Pie | feasting with friends

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