Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Perfect Mashed Potatoes - The Ultimate Comfort Food

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?

19 comments:

  1. What?? You put stuff in your mashed potatoes? I thought adding garlic was pushing the envelope. In the Pacific Northwest, , if you add sour cream, people give you the side eye. This is... practically a meal. Southerners really do know how to fancy up the side dishes.
    So, do these have a name? Like Ultimate Mashed Potatoes?

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    1. LOL! No, ultimate mashed potatoes would involve more butter and heavy whipping cream. These are just perfect. Honestly, it's the cream cheese that puts them a step above the rest, Virginia.

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  2. This is such a great idea. And on another note. This week's Woman's World magazine features Trim Healthy Mama.

    I know you are not eating these fattening things. I saw a photo shoot picture of you on FB and you look amazing and gorgeous.

    I am on deadline and went through Samoas like water. Now I pay penance.

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    1. Samoas? Is that a Girl Scout cookie, Tina?

      I will have to pick up that issue of WW. They always have some weight loss thing on the front cover. At least I can say I know this one works.

      And thank you. It was time to update my promo pix. Jodie always does a great job.

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  3. Mercy, this recipe makes my mashed potatoes look anemic! My Irish ancestors are rolling over in their graves! LOL Sounds decadent and definitely something I should try...when I have a lot of people over so I don't eat it all myself. I love potatoes.

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    1. Kav, you're Irish. Of course you love your spuds. It's in your DNA.

      So do the Irish mash their potatoes?

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  4. I am a potato addict. I love them. I can't resist them. I don't even try anymore because I can shrug off brownies and cakes sometimes, but fresh potatoes??? Oh, this Celtic Queen loves her taters! This looks marvelous, Tex! Like you I like them with or without skin and I love them with cheese or ranch dressing added in.... But I also like the plain old boiled potato, mashed up on a plate, buttered and salted and peppered. That's one of Dave's favorite things and it's so hokey and country that we do that from time to time (or if I'm busy he'll cook up a mess of potatoes and do that) and it makes for great eating! Someone has to support our friendly Idaho potato farmers!!!

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    1. Ruthy, my girls great grandmother always served boiled potatoes with her chicken fried steak and fried chicken. Put a little cream gravy on top and it was pure heaven.

      See, now I have a harder the shrugging off the sweets. They call to me like I'm Alice in Wonderland. Eat me. EAT ME.

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  5. Mindy, congrats on the amazing and gorgeous, btw. :) That Tina!!! She's got a way with words, doesn't she???

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    1. Ha! You are too funny. But I'll take amazing and gorgeous any day. No matter how much of a stretch of the imagination it might be.

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  6. I love my mashed potatoes with stuff in them! These look soooooo goooooodddd!

    But I'm not eating very many potatoes these days. Once in a while for a planned off-plan meal.

    And even when I make mashed potatoes, my family rebels when I put stuff in them. They like them plain - some butter, salt and pepper, and they're good to go. Gravy sometimes. Or chicken and noodles.

    (If you're questioning the value of chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes, check out my post on the Amish Wisdom blog this week - there are two more days to sign up for the giveaway!)

    And yes, that was a bit of gratuitous publicity.

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    1. And here I have a hard time imagining mashed potatoes without stuff in them. They'd be so bland and boring.

      Seriously, Jan, the cream cheese really does add a lot. And they'd never even know it was there. ;)

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    2. Yes, we would.

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    3. I don't know who answered your comment, Mindy, but I'm assuming it was one of my family members. LOL!

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  7. YUM! You make yours like mine--except I only use butter and milk. But I love the idea of the additions! :)

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    1. Be sure to give the cream cheese a try sometime, Missy. I think you'll like it.

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  8. So glad there is a Penzeys around here! Yum.

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    1. Right there with you, Julie. ;) Love me some Penzeys.

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