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Fat Guy

Potato Puree, Mashed Potatoes, Pommes

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Chris, I've been using the method jackal illustrates in his eGCI class -- Potato Primer with great success.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Cold salted water, covering the equal sized chunks of red potatoes. Boil until fork tender. Drain, put potatoes back in pan on low heat until all steam stops coming off the potatoes.

Rice them, add butter, S&P, cream, chopped fresh Rosemary and either fresh or roasted garlic to taste.

Serve with demi-glace made with a bit of melted in Maytag Iowa Blue Cheese.

Never had better!

doc

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I have to say, I recently obtained a ricer and I can't believe the difference it makes to mashed potatoes. I used it last night and it was almost like eating air, they were so light and fluffy.


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Ka-BUMBPT.

I had to make Thanksgiving dinner early this year, and went super-trad: turkey, squash, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts. Since it was going to be the basics, I wanted to do them very well, and thus turned to Shirley Corriher's mashed potato recipe (based on Jeffrey Steingarten's version). Basically, you slice taters in 1/3" slices, simmer at precisely 160F for 20 minutes, cool down immediately in running water, and then finish with a quick five minute boil, mashing/ricing, butter, pepper, etc.

Did the first steps using yukon golds through the cooling, and I'm here to tell you that the water was at 160.0F precisely. Roasted some garlic and heated cream, mashed garlic, salt and pepper on stove. When I was just about ready to serve everything, I put the potatoes back on the stove, brought plenty of water to the boil, and set the timer for five minutes. Beep. Not done, no problems, it's all good.

Few more minutes. Beep. Still not done. (Sliced turkey now cooling on the sideboard.)

Five more. Beep. Beep. Not done. (Family drooling.)

Ten more. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Not done. (Family toying with knives at table.)

Screwed, I drained them, mashed them, added the cream, and served them. 1/3 of the mess consisted of little nubs of uncooked potato.

What the hell happened? Any tuber technicians out there?

Chris,

According to the Potato Primer Course, the potatoes are cooked TO 160F, not AT 160F.

The trick is to pre-cook the potatoes to about 71C/160F for about 30 minutes and then cool to room temperature or below. The starch swells and gelatinises in the cells, but the temperature is not hot enough to melt the pectic material and break or separate the cells The ensuing cold step is essential, as it causes the starch to retrograde and fix. Temperature control is critical. Use a digital thermometer.

Is that right?

Ian

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You are trying to hold the potato at about 70C/160F for 30 mins, then cool rapidly.

The idea is to get all of the potato to that temperature for that time.

It won't cook them. You have to cook them subsequently.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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I have to say, I recently obtained a ricer and I can't believe the difference it makes to mashed potatoes.  I used it last night and it was almost like eating air, they were so light and fluffy.

I love my ricer, too. In fact, when we go to other relatives' houses for holiday meals, I bring it with me and volunteer to do the potatoes.

I've never been good at using a masher, but my mother is. Hers has a circular plate (parallel to the bottom of the pan) that is a grid, with about 1/2" square holes in it. (So it works sort of like a large-holed ricer.) I ate a lot of her potatoes growing up, and don't remember any lumps.

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Bah-THUMP.

It happened again.

I followed Jack's recipe to the degree. In fact, my devotion to the recipe cost me a Polder thermometer, which fell into the 82.5C water while the potatoes were doing their final "cooking."

Why the quotation marks? Well, the exact same thing happened: 35 minutes in that water, after the initial starch-setting and cooling (which clearly worked), didn't cook them. Not nearly.

I think I need to experiment more here -- perhaps more often than once a year, on Thanksgiving, when everyone's waiting at the table for spuds. :hmmm:


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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FWIW, Cooks Illustrated has a smoked paprika and garlic mashed potatoe recipe that includes 3 smashed cloves to 2lbs russet potatoes. The garlic is sauteed in 4oz butter over low heat for 12-14 minutes.  With this recipe, you could add the garlic butter bit-by-bit to suit your taste, but since there is only 1.5 cloves per lb of potatoes, I'm sure you would use it all and maybe a bit more.

Patrick or anyone else who may have tried this recipe, what's the proportion of smoked paprika that this recipe calls for?


Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Bah-THUMP. 

It happened again. 

I followed Jack's recipe to the degree. In fact, my devotion to the recipe cost me a Polder thermometer, which fell into the 82.5C water while the potatoes were doing their final "cooking." 

Why the quotation marks? Well, the exact same thing happened: 35 minutes in that water, after the initial starch-setting and cooling (which clearly worked), didn't cook them. Not nearly.

I think I need to experiment more here -- perhaps more often than  once a year, on Thanksgiving, when everyone's waiting at the table for spuds. :hmmm:

For the final cooking you can boil them as normal, just not so fast you get potato soup, but a normal simmer. Once they starch has retrograded they are pretty hardy.

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I've looked at a bunch of recipe sites to see if I could find a potato puree recipe, but nothing looks quite like what I'm after. I'm wondering how to make the kind of mashed potatoes I've had in France (like the kind you get at Cafe Constant in Paris). They are flat, not fluffy, clearly have a ton of butter (yet don't feel heavy), and are perfectly smooth but not gluey. I probably could figure it out through trial and error but any tips would be appreciated!

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several renowned chefs are said to use a 1 to 1 ratio of butter and potato, passed through a food mill or ricer. that should get you close to your goal--not fluffy, and certainly buttery!


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I learned first hand from David Bouley how he makes his wonderful potato puree - his is very similar to Robuchon's potatoes... it's actually a pretty involved process:

1) Choosing the right potato - Bouley spent a lot of time discussing why the proper potato is necessary - ie the proper starch content - but the boiled down discussion is that he likes a particular fingerling that he has grown for him - but it's similar to a french ratte...

2) Simmer the potatoes in their skin in salted water until tender

3) remove potatoes from the water and remove skins by rubbing in a towel

4) Press hot, skinned potatoes through a ricer so that you don't overwork the starch

5) "dry" the riced potatoes in a dry saute pan over low heat to remove as much moisture as possible - be careful to keep moving in the pan so as not to color or burn them...

6) Whip an equal ratio of butter (1:1 pounds) into the dry potatoes... this makes the buttery version - although I've found that a .5:1 butter potato ratio makes a very good substitute and it's a bit healthier

7) While hot, run butter/potato emulsion through a tamis - once works well, several times is best

8) Add back to a clean pot and whisk in enough of the potato cooking water as to obtain the proper consistency...

Done! (whew)

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I learned first hand from David Bouley how he makes his wonderful potato puree - his is very similar to Robuchon's potatoes...  it's actually a pretty involved process:

1) Choosing the right potato - Bouley spent a lot of time discussing why the proper potato is necessary - ie the proper starch content - but the boiled down discussion is that he likes a particular fingerling that he has grown for him - but it's similar to a french ratte...

2) Simmer the potatoes in their skin in salted water until tender

3) remove potatoes from the water and remove skins by rubbing in a towel

4) Press hot, skinned potatoes through a ricer so that you don't overwork the starch

5) "dry" the riced potatoes in a dry saute pan over low heat to remove as much moisture as possible - be careful to keep moving in the pan so as not to color or burn them...

6) Whip an equal ratio of butter (1:1 pounds) into the dry potatoes... this makes the buttery version - although I've found that a .5:1 butter potato ratio makes a very good substitute and it's a bit healthier

7) While hot, run butter/potato emulsion through a tamis - once works well, several times is best

8) Add back to a clean pot and whisk in enough of the potato cooking water as to obtain the proper consistency...

Done! (whew)

Bookmarked, thanks. :smile:

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This is an excellent method. Heretically,potatoes cooked and dried out in the microwave give superb results here, and the result can be reheated as long as the potatoes are sieved/riced when hot. I recommend a sieve-two medium sized potatoes easily serve six when cooked by this method, so it's hardly too much work.

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KennethT, thank you so much. I'll have to use a fine sieve, as I don't have a Tamis. I hadn't thought to run the potatoes through a sieve again after they went through the ricer! That must really make the difference.

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I'm a fan of baking my potatoes for pommes puree. I then run them, peeled, through a ricer and add as much butter as feels appropriate.

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Kenneth has pretty much nailed the common method for high end potatoes puree. These are not everyday mashed potatoes, they are def. for special occasions. A few notes I would add:

I find that yukon gold potatoes work really wonderfully too. Fingerlings or yukons are def. the way to go.

When I am peeling the hot, just boiled potatoes, I reserve a little bit of the cooking liquid in the pot I am peeling over...to keep the potatoes hot. I hope this makes sense...basically just keep the potatoes you aren't peeling in the cooking pot with about an inch of the hot water left in it. Like I said, this keeps the potatoes hot--which is very important to making the puree.

I personally don't dry my potatoes, but you could also do it in an oven instead of a saute pan...just be careful not to burn or color.

Make sure to use unsalted butter. The butter must be COLD (and cut into little cubes) in order to maintain its butter emulsion. This is one of the most important steps because it creates that silky, buttery texture that people love. Separated or broken butter in the potatoes is not good, and creates a greasy feel as opposed to a luxurious feel. I use a rubber spatula, and kind of do a folding motion. I would avoid a whisk, because one of the main dangers in this process is overworking the potatoes and getting a gluey, snotty texture. So, it's important to whip in cold butter to hot, just riced potatoes. I personally wouldn't do a 1:1 ratio (I've done it before) because I just find it's too much butter. I also add a good amount of hot cream to mine...I just like them this way. Just butter is fine, but also cream/butter is fine too. Season aggressively with salt and white pepper.

One more note...it is important that the potatoes remain HOT throughout this process. Cold potatoes have a tendency to get that gluey texture. It's also important that once they are hot, they stay hot (or at least warm enough for the butter not to separate). Definitely not a thing you could probably do the day before...best to do it close to "service" if possible.

Passing it through a tamis is a good step, but not completely necessary for, what I would call, at home use.

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Kenneth has pretty much nailed the common method for high end potatoes puree. These are not everyday mashed potatoes, they are def. for special occasions. A few notes I would add:

I find that yukon gold potatoes work really wonderfully too. Fingerlings or yukons are def. the way to go.

When I am peeling the hot, just boiled potatoes, I reserve a little bit of the cooking liquid in the pot I am peeling over...to keep the potatoes hot. I hope this makes sense...basically just keep the potatoes you aren't peeling in the cooking pot with about an inch of the hot water left in it. Like I said, this keeps the potatoes hot--which is very important to making the puree.

I personally don't dry my potatoes, but you could also do it in an oven instead of a saute pan...just be careful not to burn or color.

Make sure to use unsalted butter. The butter must be COLD (and cut into little cubes) in order to maintain its butter emulsion. This is one of the most important steps because it creates that silky, buttery texture that people love. Separated or broken butter in the potatoes is not good, and creates a greasy feel as opposed to a luxurious feel. I use a rubber spatula, and kind of do a folding motion. I would avoid a whisk, because one of the main dangers in this process is overworking the potatoes and getting a gluey, snotty texture. So, it's important to whip in cold butter to hot, just riced potatoes. I personally wouldn't do a 1:1 ratio (I've done it before) because I just find it's too much butter. I also add a good amount of hot cream to mine...I just like them this way. Just butter is fine, but also cream/butter is fine too. Season aggressively with salt and white pepper. 

One more note...it is important that the potatoes remain HOT throughout this process. Cold potatoes have a tendency to get that gluey texture. It's also important that once they are hot, they stay hot (or at least warm enough for the butter not to separate). Definitely not a thing you could probably do the day before...best to do it close to "service" if possible.

Passing it through a tamis is a good step, but not completely necessary for, what I would call, at home use.

Qwerty - you're right - the biggest key, according to Bouley, was not overworking the starch - which is why you rice, and not put in a blender like you might a celery root puree, or leek/fennel puree, etc.... also it is the reason for running through a tamis - Bouley related the tamis to a new windowscreen - when you run your fingers over it, it should feel rough, not smooth - it acts like "thousands of little knives" which will make the potato particle smaller, but without overworking the starch.

Kiliki - just make sure your fine sieve feels rough to the touch, like a windowscreen... if it is too smooth, it won't produce the desired effect... you can actually get tamis pretty cheap - I got a bunch at the local restaurant supply store for like $5 a piece... I got 3 or 4 so now I can run it through several times without having to wash in between, or I can do more than 1 different type of puree at a time...

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Robuchon's recipe for Puree de Pommes de Terre is on Page 205 of Patricia Wells' "Simply French" book that she did on the cuisine of Robuchon. I have not tried it -- and unfortunately was unable to get in to the restaurant when I was in Paris when the restaurant still existed. This recipe uses 16 tablespoons of butter to two pounds of potatoes -- how could that not be delicious???

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It's been said in a number of other places (including the potato primer here on egullet)...but par cooking the potatoes at 65C and letting the starches retrograde before a final cook makes a world of difference....it also allows you relax the need to keep the potatoes hot and fresh from beginning to end.

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Qwerty - you're right - the biggest key, according to Bouley, was not overworking the starch - which is why you rice, and not put in a blender like you might a celery root puree, or leek/fennel puree, etc.... also it is the reason for running through a tamis - Bouley related the tamis to a new windowscreen - when you run your fingers over it, it should feel rough, not smooth - it acts like "thousands of little knives" which will make the potato particle smaller, but without overworking the starch.

Yeah I understand the reasons for everything, my only point about the tamis was directed at the OP and was just so they didn't think they HAD to use a tamis to make delicious potato puree. It is a refinement that is definitely a great thing to do, but if you don't have a tamis it's not the end of the world. The potatoes will still be great without doing it, the texture just won't be as refined.

It's been said in a number of other places (including the potato primer here on egullet)...but par cooking the potatoes at 65C and letting the starches retrograde before a final cook makes a world of difference....it also allows you relax the need to keep the potatoes hot and fresh from beginning to end.

I actually experimented with this the other day (just got a home sous vide setup) and had positive results. My understanding is this technique gelatinizes the starch without actually cooking the potato, so in effect you have gummy-free potatoes that you can overwork, put into a thermomix/blender, etc.

I was not able to "overwork" the potatoes (and I tried) so this is a very valid technique (and one that is being done in SV equipped kitchens...has been for a while I think) but I think out of the reach of most home cooks, due more to equipment than actual ability.

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It's been said in a number of other places (including the potato primer here on egullet)...but par cooking the potatoes at 65C and letting the starches retrograde before a final cook makes a world of difference....it also allows you relax the need to keep the potatoes hot and fresh from beginning to end.

I actually experimented with this the other day (just got a home sous vide setup) and had positive results. My understanding is this technique gelatinizes the starch without actually cooking the potato, so in effect you have gummy-free potatoes that you can overwork, put into a thermomix/blender, etc.

I was not able to "overwork" the potatoes (and I tried) so this is a very valid technique (and one that is being done in SV equipped kitchens...has been for a while I think) but I think out of the reach of most home cooks, due more to equipment than actual ability.

Very interesting about the sous vide par cooking... how does this work? Can someone get a link to the potato primer that has the basic steps? Or is it just vac/bring to equilib. at 65C/simmer until cooked and proceed as normal? Thanks!

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There's a primer here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=31701

This takes things a step farther, telling you how to retrograde the starch so you can puree the bejeezus out of the spuds without making them gluey.

It works; I've done it a few times. But it's a lot of effort.

My preference is for la ratte potatoes, french fingerlings, or russian bananas (I like my puree to have a lot of flavor). Other kinds are preferable if you want a more neutral puree.

I find the 50% butter by weight varieties to be pretty ludicrous. They taste more like potato-thickened butter sauces than anything else. 20 to 30% butter is really rich and delicious, and retains the character of potatoes.


Notes from the underbelly

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Qwerty - you're right - the biggest key, according to Bouley, was not overworking the starch - which is why you rice, and not put in a blender like you might a celery root puree, or leek/fennel puree, etc....

People actually do potato puree in a blender? :unsure:

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