When I’m making mashed potatoes, I’m usually thinking about only one thing – what am I going to mix in? We’ve done Miso Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, garam masala mashed potatoes, corned beef mashed potatoes, bacon mashed potatoes, etc. I’m always looking for new ideas to give the otherwise plain potatoes some texture, zing and excitement.
One question that I’ve never asked myself was – how to make the very best mashed potato in the first place? The recipe seems simple: peel, boil, mash, salt, milk, butter, mix.
Well, a few weeks ago, we bought tickets to Cirque du Soleil in Orlando and before the show, we dined at Deep Blu restaurant at Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, Bonnet Creek. I know what you’re saying – in all of Orlando, you chose a hotel restaurant???
Yup. We sure did.
Deep Blu is not just any hotel restaurant. It’s the very best seafood restaurant that just happens to be located inside a hotel. That’s not just my opinion – see Deep Blu reviews on Open Table, Orlando Weekly review, Urban Spoon review, Orlando Magazine review, Yelp reviews.
They were the very. best. mashed. potatoes. ever. I ate nearly the entire bowl of it myself, after apologizing profusely to my husband for giving him crap for the order.
I needed to know the recipe! What did the chef add into the mashed potatoes to make them so creamy, smooth, buttery, luxurious? Was it olive oil? sour cream? buttermilk? mangalitsa lard? duck fat? It was driving me crazy, so I asked the chef.
So what did I learn from Chef Cory York?
To make the very best mashed potatoes, you only need 2 ingredients. Potato and Butter.
I didn’t believe him. Until I tried it myself.
It’s all in the technique. Steam, not boil.
How to make the very best mashed potatoes
You can pretty much use any potato that you want – some are adamant that the waxy-skinned Yukons are the best for mashed potatoes – and others don’t care.
I prefer the Yukon golds for mashed potatoes, I think they result in a smooth. creamy texture and are naturally buttery-tasting on their own.
Why steam? Steaming cooks the potatoes gently, delicately, disturbing the starch molecules as little as possible. Boiling is more violent, direct contact with the hot, boiling water, potatoes knocking against each other in the boil. The more that the starch is beat up like a thug, the more chance it has to get gummy, glue-y and mealy.
Peel the potatoes and compost the peels.
Quarter the potatoes. I’ve put them in a silicon steamer basket.
I used my Steamy Kitchen wok because it’s so simple to steam in with plenty of space.
Use a potato ricer (here are 3 ricers that are highly rated). Don’t try to use any electronic gadgety gadgets to mash the potatoes – Just keep it simple. A good ol’ fashioned potato masher works too – but the ricer will give you the best smooth texture.
Mix in salted butter with a wooden spoon. Again, no electronics here – mixing too fast (like in a mixer) will make the potatoes gummy and glue-y.
If you want, top with chives.
And maybe a bit more melted butter. No cream, no milk.
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Very Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe
I love yukon potatoes the best for mashed potatoes, but feel free to use russet potatoes. One of the biggest mistakes in making mashed potatoes is not seasoning with enough salt. Think of a good french fry. You can taste the salt, right? Great french fries don't need ketchup. Same with mashed potatoes. They should be seasoned enough that you happily eat it plain with no gravy! One more note: Want more butter in the mashed potatoes? GO FOR IT!
Ingredients:4 large yukon potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3-4 tablespoons salted butter
OPTIONAL: few sprigs fresh chives, minced (or other fresh herb)
1. Peel the potatoes and cut each potato into 4 pieces. Place the potatoes in a steamer rack (or see notes above) and prop up in a large pot. Pour in 2" of water into a large pot, and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to medium-high and steam the potatoes for 20 minutes or until they pierce very easily with a paring knife. You might have to refill the steaming water in your pot (just keep an eye on the water level).
2. Let potatoes cool and process through a potato ricer.
3. Stir in the butter and season with salt. Taste and adjust with additional salt and/or butter if needed. If the mashed potatoes isn't quite creamy enough, add more butter. Sprinkle fresh minced chives on top.