I know that you eat mashed potatoes beyond the Thanksgiving table, but, I dare you to find a more important day for this perfect no-lump recipe. Most days of the year, I like red potatoes, smashed with skins on for a rustic feel. But on this day, they must be smooth and perfectly done.
Perfect is a crazy word to describe any food for Thanksgiving, where each person has their own food memories and family recipes. But, in this case, there is only one way to serve your picky Aunt Edna or your father’s new wife holiday mashed potatoes. They must be smooth, completely free of lumps and not fancied up by any old or new trends, such as garlic, sour cream, pecorino, mascarpone or bacon. Save these for another meal when serving it your way doesn’t crush the family food memory of your dinner guests. I’m not saying you should bend over backwards or compromise the gourmande in you, but some things are best left alone and fantastic mashed potatoes are what you need for your famous gravy. The taste is not nearly as important (although please don’t forget the salt) as is the texture on this day in which we give thanks and eat like roaring pigs.
Lumpy mashed potatoes are a kitchen failure and we have all been there, or at least I have. To get out those lumps caused by potatoes not cooked long enough, the beater comes out and the whipping begins. The problem is that the lumps never disappear, but the potatoes turn into a goo or a paste and there is no way to save them.
If you have bad memories of ruined mashed potatoes that even the dog wouldn’t eat, and you fear the upcoming holiday season, I have the secret weapon. I discovered this a few years ago when I was given a simple, inexpensive ricer, which belongs in every kitchen. The ricer and a few simple tips and you will be a mashed potatoes rock star.
My Best Tips for Perfect No Lump Mashed Potatoes:
- Peel potatoes (especially for holiday menus). Save the rustic look for a different time.
- Start potatoes in cold water. Cook all the way through to fork tender, but don’t cook so much that they are water-logged.
- Scald the milk. Add a little at a time.
- Use whole milk and real butter. Heavy cream is not necessary, but a splash is nice.
- Use a ricer. Use a ricer. Use a ricer. This guarantees no lumps and provides the perfect texture.
- Freshly grated nutmeg takes the bland away and gives the potatoes a little umph. Just a dash or two, not too much.
- Cook potatoes in cast iron dutch oven or heavy pot that has a lid. Drain and return to pot, which keeps potatoes warm.
- Taste and season. I love white pepper (it has a zing). Don’t forget the salt.
I am a purist and only use potatoes, milk, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. I use regular white potatoes, but some cooks prefer yukon golds. No matter. Just follow the tips, and don’t forget to taste along the way.
I hope you have the smoothest potatoes and stress-free Thanksgiving family dinner party. No doubt, something will go askew. We’ve all had years where the turkey didn’t cook, someone got too drunk, or too many family secrets got divulged. Normal Thanksgiving! But, this year at least you’ll have good potatoes.
Tell me, what is the Thanksgiving disaster you most remember?
- 2 pounds white potatoes, peeled (some love yukon golds for a creamier texture.
- 2 teaspoons salt (for water)
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 6 to 8 tablespoons whole milk
- splash of cream (optional)
- salt, white pepper to season
- dash nutmeg (about three gratings)
- Peel potatoes, and cut into quarters and cut again. Rinse in cold water. Put just enough cold water in pan to cover potatoes by two inches.
- Add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to boil and then simmer until fork tender. Drain and put back into pot and add butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- Scald milk.
- Smash potatoes with fork or old fashioned masher tool and add a few tablespoons of hot milk and three tablespoons of the butter. Mix with a wooden spoon.
- Take through the ricer and return to the pan. Turn the heat on low and add the rest of the milk a little at a time and use wooden spoon to stir.
- Add nutmeg. Stir again. Add in last tablespoons of butter.
- Taste and season again with salt and pepper if necessary.