Perfectly smoothmashed potatoes / pommes puree
Assuming I don't want to push the potatoes through a tamis, does anyone know the trick to perefectly smooth mashed potatoes?
Listen carefully, chaps, because this is rocket science.
1. Cook the potatoes. No resistance to a fork or skewer, but not falling apart. Time depends on type of potato.
2. Drain, strain and put back on the heat for a few seconds while getting the butter/milk or cream handy.
3. Mash the potatoes. A fork will do the job, I use a potato masher (looks like a bent fish slice). Do this until the potato is smooth. The exercise is unlikely to exhaust you.
a. Add cream, slowly, continuing mashing as you do so, until the potatoes are as smooth and creamy as you wish.
b. Add butter, mashing as you go until the potatoes are as buttery as you wish. Add milk, mashing as you go, until the potatoes are as sloppy as you wish.
5. Optional spicing with a little nutmeg at stage #3 can lift the flavour.
Bob gave you the instructions, you should follow them and learn from them.
Bob's step number 1 is the important step to "smooth" potatoes. His description: "No resistance to a fork or skewer" is important.
If you get lumps, the potatoes were not cooked enough. Bring to a boil, them simmer.
I like some texture in my mashed potatoes, the only times (I can recall) I made very smooth mashed potatoes, I thought the potatoes were over done.
First time, I was staying in a cabin, using a small wood stove. The stove did not generate a lot of cooking BTUs, I had to cook (boil) asparagus, artichokes, and then potatoes for mashing. The potatoes were the last item I cooked, the asparagus/artichokes took over an hour each. By the time I got to the potatoes, I was tired of standing in front of the stove, staying inside, so after the water came to a boil, I put the potatoes in, moved the pot off the "hot spot" and went for a walk. I don't know how long I was gone, but when I got back, I didn't think I had "boiled potatoes", I thought I had potato soup. I carefully drained the water, I didn't have to mash them, after mixing in garlic flavored cream (gently heat cream with crushed/minced garlic) I had very smooth mashed potatoes, after adding the sour cream, I was able to "whip" the potatoes. The potatoes tasted very good, but the texture was too smooth for me. One of the guys commented that he liked my mashed potatoes because they were very smooth, with no lumps. He said, he didn't like lumpy potatoes.
As Bob intimated, the potatoes have to be cooked right, or in my case wrong. Bottom line, the more falling apart the potatoes, the less "mechanically" you have to work them.
I used Russet Potatoes, about 3/4 lb each, peeled and cut into 2" slices. When the potatoes were "overcooked" the potato rounds looked like split wood (each potato round was in 3-4? pieces), when I drained the potatoes, they lost much of their form, settling into almost "goo". I had to jiggle to pot, then let the potato settle, then try to drain the water, took several tries, even then the potatoes were soupy, I left the pot with the soupy potatoes on the stove (in a warm spot) to evaporate more liquid.
I tried to duplicate it at home and was able to. For me, the key is: cooking the potatoes until there is no resistance to a tooth pick. No Resistance !
If you are getting lumps, you have "resistance".
Nice to have someone agree with me!
I've been the main potato masher for a family, ranging over 36 years or so, from 2 to 6 and back to 2 people.
For perhaps 1/4 of the preparations I have cooked the potatoes as well. My wife has cooked the 'spuds' the rest of the time. We have always used a fork or potato masher, never an electic thing nor a ricer.
We have mashed potatoes 2 or 3 times a week (boring to some, but true).
If you follow my suggestions, the only explanation I can think of if things go wrong, is that you are being idle when mashing (or perhaps using a hand or electric whisk/beater - both of these will break out a lot of starch from much of the potato, giving perhaps a rather 'gluey' texture to the potatoes but still leaving lumps if the potatoes were not cooked correctly).
If you do it by fork (or masher) you can feel the texture. It is, at this stage, too late (in my opinion), to recover the situation. If you have started to mash the potatoes and find them lumpy, you should not put them back into simmering water, they will become too water-logged to be acceptable.
re: Bob Moffatt
Bob, Your science teacher was close, very close. However, I believe the perfect equation is:
1. Peel and soak russets for 1-2 hours to get out extra starch.
2. Remove russets from water and place in a steamer. Steam until just fork tender.
3. Mix 2 cups of cream with 1 stick of butter. Heat until butter melts.
3-A: Force potatoes through a ricer into a mixing bowl.
4. Place potatoes in a warm mixing bowl, slowly mix in the cream/butter mixture until you reach the consistency you want. (Adding roasted garlic to this mixture is wonderful.)
I believe that steaming gives the potatoes perfect consistency. As to those posting they only eat mashed potatoes once or twice a year, I pity them.
I am wondering ...
but I'll leave that until later ...
My science teachers told me a lot about chemistry, physics and maths. In those days there was never a word about cookery.
As to the potato types, I admit to still being rather dumb. It's only recently that I have started to appreciate the difference between them, my wife is much more aware about this. However I have not met a potato yet which I cannot make into a smooth pureé.
. but back to the ellipsis ...
I do wonder whether the original poster ensures that he has cut the potatoes in to evenly sized pieces before he starts cooking them? Just dumping a large spud and a small spud in to boiling water will never achieve a good mash.
Well, you'll probably get slapped for changing the subject line but, yes, some spuds are better than others, depending on the type of mashed you prefer. Potatoes high in starch russets, Idahos (look for thick grainy skin) will make fluffy, light floury mashed (unless you mistreat them and unleash their gluey starches). Waxy potatoes (look for thin, shiny skin) will make creamier, sticky mashed.
re: GG Mora
i find thin skinned potatoes work best when very minimally processed, smashed rather than mashed. my favorite method is to steam fingerlings w/skins on, add a generous slice of double devon cream butter (from trader joe's), a splash of half & half, pinch salt & white pepper. smash down a couple times w/a pestle. perfect under a steak or chops.
I've been making mine the same way for years, and they always come out perfectly smooth and light. Everyone is crazy about them, and I even get requests to make them for other people's holidays.
Now, I'll admit that I use a hand mixer. Everyone tells you not to, but I find it gives you the best, and nongluey consistency, so long as you only use the lowest setting.
Also, for 5 lbs of potatoes, you want to melt 2 sticks of butter. I sautee about 20 cloves of garlic in that, like you would for garlic bread, but you don't need to.
The other important element is whipping cream, which I also add to the melted butter so it warms up. Figure a pint of it.
Then, add those to the cooked and drained potatoes along with plenty of salt and pepper and puree until the seasoning is perfect and consistency is waht you want.
I know it's a lot of butter and cream, but really, how often does one eat mashed potatoes? Once, twice a year? It's worth doing them right.