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Mash Po's


Akiko
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So I'm looking to improve my mash. I usually make two types for Thanksgiving. A sweet potato casserole with pecan topping that is excellent, silky sweet, the kids will run away and hide with the casserole dish so they don't have to share.

But my mash... I'd love to see what versions other people do, I'm never happy with mine. I'd like to make a very light, creamy, mash. I also want to be able to put a cheese (probably do some kind of blue? like a gorgonzola or dolce?) in it.

I've seen a recipe from a french chef, I think he chunked his up, boiled it in a saucepan and then rubbed it on a very fine mesh (one of those flat circle frame things) into the bowl...

What do you think? boil, or bake/ heavy cream or milk / food mill or mesh ?

How do you do it? Thanks for your help!

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I've seen a recipe from a french chef, I think he chunked his up, boiled it in a saucepan and then rubbed it on a very fine mesh (one of those flat circle frame things) into the bowl...

AARRGGHH!!! A tamis!! Hate those things - my hand almost fell off every time we had to use them in school...

Anyway...

I make mine for Thanksgiving with sour cream and cream cheese - boil them, pass them thru ricer and mix with the dairy stuff, usually in the Kitchenaid - then I bake them before serving them. Surpisingly smooth, but very, very rich, if this is what you are looking for.... No reason why you couldn't use dolcelatte instead of the cream cheese...

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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I would personally not use any sort of food processor when making mash - it is too easy to break up the starch granules and get something resembling wall paper paste. Boil in the skin (to retain all the surface starch), remove the skins and put through a ricer. Add salt, lots of butter and a splodge of cream and fold in thoroughly with a fork.

BTW - we will feature an eGCI class on spuds in November.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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nah, I mix russets and golds....it is nice to mix potatoes of different dry-matter percentages. I find the russets give a nice foundation for the sweetness of the golds...

And as for recipes...I typically don't stray too much when making mashies...just whole milk, cream, a ton of butter and salt, and then a flavor....I made some with chevre the other night to replace the cream and they were awesome...so I'm sure that blue cheese would react similarly... If you are feeling saucy, white truffle oil or truffle butter is a surefire way to make some mashies that everyone will remember.

And I tend to just use my hand masher....if you get it going nice and fast you get a great consistency that is not quite "rustic" but then again not quite box-like...

eh?

"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

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Heston Blumenthal's take on mashed potatoes is here. His technique (a two stage simmer followed by up to two stages of sieving) is fussy, but it works. Be sure you have an accurately calibrated thermometer before starting. This recipe will take an enormous amount of butter, should your arteries feel in need of clogging that day.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Akiko, I have been using King Edwards here for mash... Usually Waitrose has a good variety around November

The baking makes the flavours of the cheese, butter, onion and sour cream meld together and also gives it a golden crust up to - I usually pipe on the top layer.

As for the paste issue - it doesn't happen to me with this recipe, I'm not putting in a food prcoessor, just the mixer, and low at that, it whips them up a bit....

I also make mash with waxier potatoes, like desiree, but that's when I smash them up with olive oil and salt only, and leave chunks.

Can't wait for the potato class!

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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Mash thoughts; had a mash "thing", but this was a few years ago (shortly after my chocolate truffle "thing", but before my apple tart "thing".

- Try boiling in skins then peeling when hot. Apparently make them absorb less water.

- Some people say baked spuds "fluffier"

- Use food mill or ricer. Never processor for reasons mentioned above.

- Choose your fat of choice carefully. Have seen butter (unsalted), double cream and mix of milk and butter (Robuchon apparently - surprising as I though this would be richer). I prefer half butter half cream. Olive oil &tc other alternatives.

- If in doubt strain again thru sieve

cheerio

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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For light, fluffy mash, I prefer russets/Idahos -- something starchy, not waxy or wet. The dryer your potatoes, the more butter and cream they'll absorb. Mmmmmm.

At work, we used to boil them skin on, peel while hot, dry the chunks a bit in the oven, put through a food mill with pieces of butter, and then mix in sour cream. At home, I usually bake them and scoop out the flesh while they're hot; this way I have the skins to crisp up, yum. I stilll use a food mill, although I just bought a ricer. Food mill is easier with larger quantities. As everyone else has pointed out, never, ever the food processor! You'll burst the cell walls and have a gluey mess.

If you mill/rice boiled potatoes plain, put the potatoes back in a pot to dry them out (stir and keep an eye on them, so they don't burn). Then you can beat in your butter, sour cream, cream cheese or equivalent, seasonings, etc. Softened butter, hot milk or cream, room temp cheese -- so that you don't cool it off much. Then try to keep them hot until serving.

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I use Idahos or Russets, peeled then quartered and boiled in salted water.

When done, drain the water off (save some to help make your gravy). I start off mashing them with a hand masher. Then I throw in heaps of butter, whole milk, some sour cream, salt & fresh ground pepper. I then use a hand mixer to whip them 'til light and fluffy. Sometimes I'll add a bit of horseradish for a twist.

If I'm making a small amount of mashed potatoes, I'll use a ricer which saves on the mashing.

My mom uses a thermal bowl to keep them warm (and a thermal gravy pot, too).

My brother makes mashed sweet potatoes with garlic. He bakes the sweet potatoes (not the orange yams but the yellowish sweet potatoes). When done, he cuts them in half and scoops out the flesh into a bowl and adds roasted garlic along with milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. He then refills the potato "shells" and bakes them again until a little golden brown on top. They're quite tasty.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Russets/Idahos. I peel them and boil them whole to minimize water retention. I know I should boil them in their skins but it annoys me to peel them hot.

Drying them out either in oven or back in the pot over low heat is ideal.

Ricer is best, (most important when using waxy potatoes, as working them hard makes them gummy), but a regular old masher does the trick quite nicely.

It's my opinion that mashies should not be messed with. Lots and lots of butter, and a judicious amount of cream, salt and pepper. Two exceptions: garlic is okay every once in a while. Either simmer six or eight cloves with the cream and strain em out,, or toss a bunch in while the potatoes are boiling. Use more garlic if you go that way.

And I once served Pierre Franey's duck stew (it's in Cooking in France; I've made it a lot and it is wicked wicked good) with mashies instead of the white polenta he recommends, and I finished the potatoes with some duck fat along with cream and butter. They were amazing. The mashies carried the toasty roasty flavor of the duck fat in a most sublime manner.

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I like half butter/ half creme fraiche (heated) and then in the kitchenaid with the paddle. Sometimes I add turnips, sometimes celery root etc... I am kind of tired of garlic in mash potato. I usually do olive oil and salt and pepper these days.

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I like passing the cooked peeled potatoes through the finest Mouli disc ... dry smooth perfect puree, can be kept as light as you desire.

For the times when I want a denser more rustic result, I will use a conventional in-the-pot masher, but care must be taken to avoid overworking lest glueyness develop.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Sounds like everyone has technique covered, so I'll offer this flavor nugget. Saffron mashed potatoes. Let a few crunched-up threads of saffron infuse in the ______ (milk, cream, whatever). Excellent with mild fish dishes and not at all bad with roast chicken.

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I like mine super fluffy, so I use a ricer. When I do mashed potatoes I've noticed that no one seems to notice if they're a bit overcooked, so I cut them into halves or quarter and boil them until the skins start coming off. Then I just stick a bag over an oven mitt to hold the potatoes and peel the skins off with my other hand. The skins practically come off by themselves.

Then I mix with butter and usually wasabi powder. No one in my family likes them with milk, so the butter gives it just enough fat.

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i have been using super nice french fingerlings and getting a wondeful flavor and texture out of my potato puree...aka mash.

first boil potatoes inside the jackets until tender.

strain and peel while hot.

immediately put through food mill into the same pot you boiled them in.

add about 6 oz. of scalded milk per pound of potatoes; add it slowly and beat it in with a plastic spatula...work the milk in good, or the potatoes can become grainy...

you can do this all in advance (maximum one day).

then to finish, heat potatoes back up slowly, and add some knobs of butter and a bit of whipped cream.

Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

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I bake the potatoes in their skins, then scrape out the flesh and push it through a drum sieve with a dough scraper. Heat up a mix of equal parts milk, butter and cream until the butter has melted and all three are combined. Then mix with the potato until you reach the consistency you desire. When I want cheesy mash, I put the mash in a baking dish, grate or shave cheese over the top and stick it under the grill to brown.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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I bake the potatoes in their skins, then scrape out the flesh and push it through a drum sieve with a dough scraper. Heat up a mix of equal parts milk, butter and cream until the butter has melted and all three are combined. Then mix with the potato until you reach the consistency you desire. When I want cheesy mash, I put the mash in a baking dish, grate or shave cheese over the top and stick it under the grill to brown.

Mashed potatoes, a subject near and dear to my heart. I never met a mashed potato I didn't like, but my favorites are a variation of your method:

I microwave whole Russet potatoes in their skin. Whenever possible, I use organic Russets-the ones we get in the Bay Area taste completely different than "storage potatoes." I'm sure baking them in the oven would make them even better; I would never consider a microwave potato an acceptable "baked potato." However, IMO, mashed potatoes made w/ microwaved potatoes still taste much better than potatoes that have been cooked by boiling.

I cut them in half, put them through a cheapo ricer that looks like a giant garlic press (the skin stays behind.) Then I mix in butter, then heated half and half. Sometimes I use creme fraiche or sour cream.

Because the riced potatoes are drier than if you boiled them, they are able to absorb much more butter and milk before they get runny. Which is the whole point of my method-maximize absorption possibilites. :wink:

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At home, I usually bake them and scoop out the flesh while they're hot; this way I have the skins to crisp up, yum.

Nothing like a crispy potato skin with a nice pool of butter...probably my favorite part of the whole potato. Great vehicle for butter.

I use a ricer; it's easier to store than a food mill, and it's what I inherited from my grandmother (my sister took the food mill).

I also like to save some of the skins, and if I have leftover mashed potatos, twice-baked are on the menu (especially with bacon bits on top). Bacon, butter, crisp potato skins. What's not to like?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I find that with a ricer, you have to mix the flesh with the cream/ milk/ butter ASAP while the potato is hot, otherwise the mash is a bit lumpy. After pushing through a sieve or tammy, I find that I can let the potato go cold, and then reheat with the milk/ cream/ butter just before serving; it certainly helps when there's a lot of prep for a crowd of 8+.

edit; spelling.

Edited by Niall (log)

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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This is about half of a draft of a section of a forthcoming eGCI topic on potatoes...comments welcome

This section starts with mash, and then looks at variations.

Too often mashed potato is either a lumpy or a gluey mess.

What goes wrong?

We need to consider the structure of the potato. It consists of lots of cells , held together with pectic polysaccaride material, like the pectin that is the setting agent in jam. Each of these cells is a bag of starch.. The trick to making good textured mashed potato to break the cells apart from each other without rupturing them and letting the starch out, to give free starch floating around in the water. When you heat starch in the presence of water it swells and gelatinises – think of making custard or wall paper paste. The starch molecules bond to each other to make a gel. That’s wallpaper paste.

Overcook, and you break up the cells and get glue. Over process, such as with a blender and you mechanically shear the cells and get glue. As Steingarten says “Any cookbook that sanctions the use of a blender or food processor should be carefully shredded”

If you let the starch out you get gluey wallpaper paste. If you don’t break apart the cells enough you get lumps. You are between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Fortunately we can use another property of starch, which is known as “retrogradation”. If you cool a starch gel down it thickens and solidifies (think of pastry, or custard), and it retains this structure even if reheated. This property is widely used in the commercial processing of potatoes for dehydrated potato flakes (instant mash, such as the brand that was promoted with TV adverts featuring tin Martians), and has been adapted and written about for home and restaurant use by Steingarten, Blumenthal and others.

The trick is to pre-cook the potatoes to about 160F/71C for about 30 minutes, 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 following cold step is essential, as it causes the starch to retrograde and fix. Temperature control is critical. Use a digital thermometer.

Having fixed the starch we can be much rougher in the treatment of the potatoes. We can dissolve the binding between the cells by cooking the potato slices in gently salted water above 180F/82C and ideally below boiling so they don’t get knocked about too much – say 190F/90C or a very gentle simmer for 30 minutes, and then drain, dry and puree.

This method ensures that the mash does not go gluey, but at the same time can be cooked long enough and pureed well enough to ensure no lumps. Furthermore it can be allowed to go cold and reheated without loss of quality.

Before giving the definitive mashed potato recipe we need to cover some other points:

Choice of variety: Floury (high starch) or Waxy (medium/low starch) variety? There appears to be a cultural difference here, with the US preferring a floury variety such as Idaho to make a fluffier mash, and European tradition preferring waxier varieties such as Belle de Fontenay, Bintje, Charlotte or Desiree.

Floury potato varieties have more irregular cells, waxy potato varieties have more regular and closely packed cells.

Hot or cold water to cook in: There is an old tradition of putting root vegetables in cold water and then raising the heat until boiling. Opinion is divided as to whether this is beneficial. On the one hand it ensures the food is more evenly cooked, and the slow heat rise may allow better gelatinisation of the starch granules before reaching temperatures that disrupt the cells. On the other hand some Swedish studies have shown more Vitamin C leaches out into the water because of the extended cooking times.

How much butter, cream, milk? To some extent this is a matter of taste. Authorities differ, for example for 2lbs of potatoes Mrs Beeton advises 2oz, Escoffier 10% (3 oz), Blumenthal 33% (10oz) and Joel Robochon a massive 50% (16oz). Lady Clark of Tillypronie (1909) adds ¼ oz, and half a cup of cream. Personally I follow Escoffier.

It is hard to lay down a hard and fast rule about how much cream or milk to add. It depends on taste, the variety of potato, how much you dried out the puree, and on the desired texture. I find a tablespoonful more than enough.

Hot or cold milk, butter? Most authorities agree that one should use cold butter and hot milk. Why? Is something more going on here? I believe there is. I think what is happening is that the emulsified form of the butter is acting as a sort of butter sauce, in which the separated potato cells now float. Butter emulsions are only stable if the butter is melted at a low temperature, and not heated over 190F. You are unlikely to get your mashed potatoes that hot., but beating the butter in at a temperature that just melts the butter seems like a good idea.

I am much less clear why hot milk or cream rather than cold is specified, since the amount added, compared to the mass of potato, would have no effect in terms of temperature. I suspect it is a hold-over from the days when milk may have been of dubious health.

Milk first or butter first? Adding the milk after the butter is better, since it allows for easier control of texture.

How to puree?: More choices. Most agree on the use of a potato ricer or failing that a mouli-legumes (food mill), since the pressing action damages the cells least. Personally I prefer an old fashioned potato masher, or even a fork, since I like the slight variations in texture. Escoffier advises and high-end establishments will laboriously rub the puree through a sieve, possibly twice to ensure smoothness. Don’t tell Jeffrey Steingarten, but once the starch has been fixed by the method here described, and if the cooked potato slices are allowed to cool to warm, then an electric whisk or even a stick blender can be used with care without the puree turning gloopy and gluey. Don’t over process, however.

The Recipe

This is for two people.

Take a couple of spuds. These are Estima, a floury variety

i248.jpg

Peel and cut into 1cm/1/2 inch slices. The size is to allow the heat to reach the centre in the cooking time. Put into water at 160F/71C for 30 minutes.

i249.jpg

Cool to room temperature to allow the starch to retrograde. Putting the pan under a running cold tap is easiest

i250.jpg

Note how the potato have become waxy and translucent

i251.jpg

Cook them at a gentle simmer (80C/180F) for 30 minutes

i252.jpg

Drain, and allow to dry and cool for a few minutes.

i253.jpg

Mash. Here with a hand masher, or even with an electric whisk

i254.jpg

Add salt, white pepper, cold (room temperature) butter, and correct thickness with a little milk

Perfect Mash

i255.jpg

Sausage and Mash with a Port and Onion confit and buttered cabbage for supper

i256.jpg

Is it worth it? Why go to all this trouble for basic mash?

It depends in part on your attitude to food. You can always reach for the packet of instant mashed potato, and many chefs do. It can make a satisfactory product, but for perfection a little more effort is needed. Pre-cooking the potato has advantages for the professional kitchen and for the busy home cook in that the product can be reheated, and held cold or warm at both the pre-cooked and the finished stage, so much can be prepared beforehand

Variations.

There are literally hundreds of variations. Each culture has its own, depending on the local ingredients and culinary traditions. Hungarians, for example, add sour cream and paprika, in Provence they add meat glaze. There are spicy versions from India. Here are a few.

For the rest you must wait for the lesson...

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My trials with different types of Mashed Po's begins tonight.

At work, we used to boil them skin on, peel while hot, dry the chunks a bit in the oven, put through a food mill with pieces of butter, and then mix in sour cream. At home, I usually bake them and scoop out the flesh while they're hot; this way I have the skins to crisp up, yum. I stilll use a food mill, although I just bought a ricer. Food mill is easier with larger quantities. As everyone else has pointed out, never, ever the food processor! You'll burst the cell walls and have a gluey mess.

Suzanne, did you find that boiling the potatoes left you with a different texture? Do you find that baking them leaves them dryer so you can add more delicious cream/butter/cheese?

It makes sense to me that baking them would leave them the driest but everyone, from Heston to Jeffrey S to our illustrious Mashed Potato guides here in this thread seem to boil...

I'm going to do two different types... floury vs waxy tonight to compare the differences but I might do another trial tomorrow using the two types and baking instead of boiling.. opinions anyone?

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I'm going to do two different types... floury vs waxy tonight to compare the differences but I might do another trial tomorrow using the two types and baking instead of boiling..  opinions anyone?

You might want to try steaming the potatoes as well.I'll do this for small quantities and I find the results excellent.I add the butter cold and the cream hot.Otherwise I boil,no simmer whole with the skin on.

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