I have made mashed potatoes so many times that I have pretty much memorized my recipe. And I can adapt it to whatever I have in my fridge. Mashed potatoes go with just about anything, and almost everyone loves them, so it’s a tried-and-true side dish. I’ll almost always serve them with fish, for instance, like last weekend’s crusted cod.
I usually choose Yukon Gold potatoes. They seem to make the creamiest, tastiest mash. If you haven’t discovered these all-purpose potatoes, they also make great hash browns and oven fries. Give them a try.
I won’t normally buy sour cream or buttermilk just to use them for mashed potatoes, but if I already have it for some other recipe, I find it adds a nice zing to the potatoes. When I don’t have either of those, though, cream, half-and-half or even milk works just fine.
If you want to dress your mashed potatoes up, you can stir in cooked bacon, shredded cheese, fresh herbs, a spoonful of pesto or even chopped, sauteed vegetables. If you boil peeled garlic cloves with the potatoes, you can mash them in too. But I usually just serve mine with butter and cream. They’re absolutely delicious that way.
Select 1 medium Yukon Gold potato per serving. This may make more than you need, but it’s better to have too much than too little. (Ideas for leftovers will be posted tomorrow.) Peel each potato and cut into rough chunks. Put in a pot, cover with water and add a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the potatoes are tender enough to be split by a fork (15-20 minutes).
Drain the cooked potatoes and return them to the pot. Per serving, add ½ tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon cream, milk, buttermilk or sour cream (depending on what you have). So for 4 servings, you’ll need 2 tablespoons butter and ¼ cup of dairy. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Add salt and pepper to taste, and beat with a wooden spoon to the desired creaminess (or push the potatoes through a food mill if you want them absolutely free of lumps).