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Mashed potatoes in advance.

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I really like to have everything prepared in advance for the big T day but have always waited until just before the meal to actually mash the potatoes and add the cream and butter and whatever else I decide to flavor 'em with. Now I've looked a few of the magazine checklists and some say you can make the spuds in the morning and nuke 'em right before dinner. How heretical is this?

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  1. Tread carefully here. I would experiment this weekend to see if you can make it work for you.

    1. Restaurants do it, you can to. I wouldn't do it too early though. I frequently mash the spuds a couple hours early.

      1. I usually make them an hour or so ahead of my anticipated serving time. Then put them in the top of a buttered double boiler or metal bowl over (but not immersed in) hot water. Keep the heat on VERY low. Butter a round of parchment and place it on the surface of the potatoes, butter side down, and put a lid on the bowl. Just before service, turn the heat on a bit higher for a little while and then give the potatoes a good stir. Of course, this assumes that you will have a spare burner on your stovetop to do nothing but keep your mashed potatoes warm.

        1. The past few years I have been making them the day before and plan the same this year. I cook them just barely enough to squeeze them through the ricer. This way they are very, very, fluffy. I then CAREFULLY and slowly just barely stir in melted butter, salt, and pepper. The key is to not disturb them too much otherwise they can get gluey. Then I put the potatoes in a aluminum pan and cover with foil. On Thanksgiving I put them in the oven for 35 minutes covered and then add a dollop more of butter to them, a wee bit of cream or milk, and maybe a dash of white truffle oil. They come out fantastic. Everyone always asks me my secret. They come out better than making them fresh.

          Using the microwave has been a disaster a few times with the taters coming out all weird textured.

          4 Replies
          1. re: the rogue

            My experience is also hit or miss, and a lot depends on technique and the quality of the actual potatoes. Hence my earlier advice. It's not as simple as make first thing in the morning and zap in the afternoon...

            1. re: the rogue

              I use the same method - also add a bit of sour cream, and sometimes roasted garlic. Here's a hint - let the cold potatoes come up to room temp - they'll take less time in the oven. Then, put the hot casserole in a thermal box (usually used to keep things cold). But, it works in reverse as well. You can put newspapers on the bottom, before adding the casserole to keep the heat from bubbling the plastic. Then fill the rest of the box with handfuls of plastic bags from the super market to insulate it. Works like a charm. If you have more than one dish you need to keep hot, just stack 'em.

              1. re: critter

                Great idea on the 'cooler'. How long do you count on them being able to hold an acceptable temp?

                1. re: EP

                  Several hours, at least. You can buy large, heavy foam containers at restaurant supply companies (Smart & Final in L.A.), which accommodate chafer size foil pans. These foam boxes work just as well, and are used in the catering business for transporting hot dishes.

            2. In the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook there is a great recipe for Thanksgiving mashed potatoes (p. 287)that I have made as much as 2 days in advance with no disastrous results! In fact, people have always loved it. I frequently add roasted garlic to the potatoes as well--it's a very rich recipe, but VERY good. I agree with you.....it's SO much better to get everything possible done ahead on T Day.

              1. I just tried Martha Stewart's technique this weekend (which only works an hour early she says)... and it was GREAT.

                Basically, work in all your butter and only 2/3 of your hot milk. Then put it over very barely simmering double boiler and pour over the last 1/3 of hot milk but *DON'T STIR IT IN* and let it sit. An hour later, I stirred it in and they tasted and felt like they had been mashed a few seconds before.

                1. My new stove has a "warming drawer", so I am thinking of making the potatoes an hour or so in advance and keeping them in there.

                  Anyone have experience with this?

                  1. Julia Child says you can make them ahead, covered, as long as you keep a wooden spoon under the lid to keep it propped open a little bit. She said otherwise they taste "funny."

                    1. I make them ahead of time (in the morning) and keep them warm in my crockpot. The trick is to add a block of cream cheese to it in addition to the butter and milk. It's more fattening this way but the potatoes are delicious and I don't think anyone can tell a difference between them and "just made" potatoes. I even think they are better this way!