You've probably heard me mention mashed potatoes hundreds of times over the last few years. How my boys are meat-and-potato guys, and their potato of choice is the mashed variety. However, other than sharing a lighter version of the comfort food staple here, I've never told you how I make my mashed potatoes. Because there are mashed potatoes and there are perfect mashed potatoes. And though I rarely eat them anymore, I sure know how to fix 'em.
The first thing you need for this recipe is, well, potatoes. Take your pick. Russet, Yukon Gold, red... Whatever you prefer. For the most part, it's usually good old CHEAP russets for me.
On this occasion, I cut up three large potatoes and three smaller ones.
While the potatoes get top-billing in this recipe, it's really what goes into them that makes the difference.
I like to add butter, cream cheese, half-and-half or milk and salt and pepper.
On this occasion, I decided to get fancy and add some shredded sharp cheddar, too.
Since my boys complain when there's skin in their potatoes, I peel them, but you are more than welcome to leave the skin on, if you prefer. If it were up to me, I'd leave it on, but since I'm not the one eating them, I let them have their way. Whether you peel or not, cut your taters into somewhat uniform pieces. You want them to cook evenly, so they need to be roughly the same size.
Put the cut potatoes into a large pot and cover with water by one to two inches. Add a teaspoon (or more) of salt and put them on the stove top on high heat and bring to a boil. Here's a little tip. If you lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pot, your water won't boil over. And if you've ever had to clean baked-on potato foam off of your stove, you know what a mess that can be.
Cook until potatoes are tender. Don't over cook them or they'll get mushy. We're looking for mashed, not mushy potatoes. Then drain off the water.
These are perfect.
Now add your butter and cream cheese (and the cheddar if you like). For this amount of potatoes, I added about 3-4 tablespoons of butter and 2-3 oz. of cream cheese.
And cover until melted.
FYI, the cream cheese will never actually look melted, but once the butter is gone, the cream cheese will be nice and soft.
Now it's time to mash. How you do that is up to you. You can use a masher, which is what I did for years, but nowadays I just break out my hand mixer. Much quicker and the potatoes get so much fluffier. Of course, you do miss out on building that upper arm strength.
Mix everything together until well blended.
Then add your milk or half and half until you reach your desired consistency. Typically, I use milk, but I had some half and half left over from another recipe, so I thought I'd use it up. Now add salt and pepper to taste and whip some more.
Here's another secret for those who have picky eaters. My kids always used to complain when they saw specks of pepper in their potatoes. So, I started using white pepper. It still adds loads of flavor, but no one can see it. ;)
And there you have it. Perfect mashed potatoes. The ultimate comfort food.
Since my boys like them so much, I usually make enough to have leftovers. I can use them for the next days supper or, I've been told, they make a good late-night snack.
What's your ultimate comfort food?