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Help!!!!!! I need all of you chowhounders to back me up on my mashed potato technique. Annoying brother in law insists that I use a hand mixer to mash my potatoes, I prefer to use a ricer. Can someone back me up on the virtues of ricing? Thanks!!!!!!

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  1. use both first the ricer than the mixer.

    1. I just use a masher...It's *very* easy to get overmixed, gummy potatoes with a mixer....

      Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

      1. Ricer! With a mixer you run the risk of overbeating and getting too much gluten. Bleh!

        1. I concur. With ricer you get light and fluffy, with mixer you get gluey.

          1. Don't overcook potatoes. Rice. Add copious amounts of cream and butter. Get on treadmill next day.

            1. Never let a mixer (or blender or food processor) near potatoes to be mashed. It virtually guarantees gluey glop. It does awful things to the type of starch that mashing potatoes have.

              The ricer is the best way to go, though a hand masher is also fine. One nice thing with a ricer (at least mine) is that you can leave the skin on when you cook them and the skin just gets left in the ricer; saves the time of peeling and leaves a bit more nutrients in the potatoes.

              Use the right kind of potato: baking types (i.e., Idaho/Burbank Russets) not waxy types (i.e., Red Norland). All purpose types (i.e., Yukon Golds) can be OK, but Russets will yield a superior texture.

              Add butter after ricing the potatoes but before you start whisking them with a fork: the coating of fat helps prevent gumminess from developing with the whisking (see the theme). Then add the cream.

              In addition to salt and pepper, a hint of freshly grated nutmeg (key words: hint and fresh) can help brighten the flavors all around.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Karl S.

                I too follow this method, and use a hand masher.

                Fyi, I always leave the skins on and while the skin does tend to get stuck on the masher during the initial mash, a firm thwack dislodges them and then upon subsequent strokes, the skins incorporate nicely into the whole.

                I always add butter first, and THEN follow with half and half. I read (probably in Cook's Illustrated) that the order of these two ingredients does matter and will impact on the final texture and flavor of the dish.

                Finally, I too subscribe to the nutmeg addtition. Unfortunately, I usually resort to the bottled variety. Guess it's time for me to visit a spice shop nad get the real deal.

                1. re: Karl S.

                  I'm not a big Alton Brown fan, but I did try one of his suggestions and have stuck with it - he says to mix waxy and meally potatoes in mashed. I use Russets and Yukons and the results are very, very good.

                2. j

                  I use a hand-held masher but the more important part is to heat up your cream and butter so that its addition will not cool down your taters. Cold mashed potatoes are only good as an ingredient for other stuff. Even better is to simmer some garlic in your cream and butter for easy garlic mashed potatoes.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jennyantepenultimate

                    Thanks for the tip on the hot cream. I use the hand-held zig-zag masher, but I've never heated up my dairy ingredients before mixing in. Incidentally, Tony Bourdain's version in his latest book suggests the same technique--and he is, in my book, the ultimate authority on respecting ingredients and making real food.

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      I swiped this tip from Cook's Illustrated, which to me is, in Food TV terms, a less hip more nerdy print version of Alton Brown.

                  2. if it's just me, i cook the potato in my small, wok-like calphanon, then use a pastry blender with steel blades. also use it to chop eggs for egg salad,

                    1. Yes, my husband was brought up eating mixer beaten "whipped" potatoes( his mother was a suberb cook in gereral), and I love the ricer (chunky)type. So maybe it's a comfort food type thing. The one new thing I've learned in recent years is that sour cream is very superior to adding regular cream.

                      1. Mashed potatoes is a "sacred" food in our household--husband from very Irish background (me also, but not so prevalent.) Basically on Thanksgiving, the turkey is the vehicle for the gravy, which is the reason for the spuds... :)

                        My husband always is the spud chef. Boils them, drains and then "drys" them in a warm pot till the outsides are floury. Then uses a grid-type masher, only up and down motion, no stirring. Milk, butter to follow--always delicious. The spuds make the meal in our family...always excellent. Simpler the better and the drying is the really crucial step.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: berkleybabe

                          Keep your husband. He's da bomb.

                          Overworking potatoes can make them gummy. So no ricer and no electric mixer. Less is more in this situation, except when it comes to the milk and butter.

                          1. re: Dorothy

                            Good for a smile, Dorothy, thanks! He's the man for spuds...

                            1. re: berkleybabe

                              You made me smile, too. For 20 years my husband and I had another couple whose family was out of state for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm a great one for buttonholing people and assigning tasks to them. From the very first year John was the "spud man" and it was his special job. He passed away a few years ago, and I especially miss him on Thanksgiving! 8-)

                        2. Sometimes I bake my Idahos. It IS more difficult, getting the hot potato out of the skin, but the reward is a fluffier potato with more flavor which is lost on the unschooled.

                          But, my rules are

                          Dry the boiled potatoes on the stove, add butted first, heat the cream/milk, sour cream, mash by hand, add nutmeg and don’t for get the treadmill.


                          1. j
                            Jane Hathaway

                            Let me just tell you this. My mother, who is the worst cook on the planet, uses a blender. The potatoes are always the consistency of glue. I think they invented gravy because of cooks like that. Although you REALLY don't want to know about her gravy.

                            1. To go off on a slight tangent, I prefer baking to boiling, not only because the texture is lighter, but because I can then roast the empty cup of skin afterwards to make crispy potato skins. However, when I tried this with sweet potato, the skins just burnt. Is there a special technique that I'm missing here for sweet potatoes?

                              With mashed sweet potatoes, orange zest, cilantro and roasted garlic are all worthy additions, for the record.

                              1. It's your kitchen and you're the host(ess)? Then it's your business how you produce your mashed potatoes and not your annoying BIL's.

                                1. Bah, you don't even need a ricer. I just use a wooden fork. Work those potatoes.

                                  1. I have tasted mixer potatoes and riced (then stirred with a wooden spoon) potatoes side by side one year. My sister made the potatoes that year, and halfway through the first batch the mixer broke. (I was 11 and not cooking at the time). My mom hauled out the "old fashioned" ricer and saved the day.

                                    There is NO comparison between a mixer potato and a riced, mashed potato. In my opion, a riced/mashed (stirred) potato is much much much better, less dense, and doesn't start going down that starchy/gluey road like mixer potatoes do.

                                    I think mixer potatoes are more correctly termed "whipped" potatoes.

                                    Tell your brother in law to get out of the kitchen. He is not cooking, so he can just be quiet and go drink beer and watch football. It's your house and you're gracious enough to cook for the family, you can do it how you want. He can make "whipped" nasty mixer potatoes any time he wants at his own house :)

                                    Sorry -- Thanksgiving "advice" from non-cooks really gets my Irish up!