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Mashed Potatoes--Making them ahead of time.

For Thanksgiving dinner. Always fall into the last minute trap of mashing potatoes, making gravy and carving the turkey. Who has a good way of mashing the potatoes earlier and keeping them hot and tasty? Double Boiler? Notthe one with the cream cheese and sour cream that is then baked. Thanks

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  1. I've had success by making the mashed potatoes and keeping them covered and then right before serving I put them back on the stove over low heat and add a splash of milk or cream to loosen them up. Keep and eye on them and stir constantly.

    I've also heard that you can keep them warm over a double boiler, but stove space is at a premium during the holidays so I always use the above method.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SarahEats

      This is exactly what I do. I mash the taters (don't over-mash), then lid them and keep the burner on the lowest setting. They do not burn or dry out in the 10 minutes it takes me to carve the turkey. If something else comes up, I have dropped a smidge of milk in and turned the heat up for a couple minutes before sending them to the table though.

      Another thread suggested that they could be made a couple hours ahead and kept in a crock pot. I have not tried this method yet, but it would likely work for some other types of side dishes.

      1. re: Ace_Mclean

        I usually make them 2-3 hours prior to serving and keep them warm in the crock pot (on low) with an occaisional stir. Anything longer than that and they start to break down. The key is to maintain the warmth. Mashed potatoes get mealy and all the other things posters mentioned when you let them get cold and reheat them. Keep them warm and they'll stay perfect!

    2. I would actually make the gravy early, rather than the potatoes. You can buy some turkey wings, and use the wings and the giblets to make a gravy either the day before, or that morning.
      We make 15 pounds of mashed for Thanksgiving so we really cannot let them sit and then reheat.They are the only thing I make at the last minute. I let the bird sit for at least 1⁄2 hour ( tented), and carve right before I mash the potatoes. Sometimes I make the gravy while the bird rests, and sometimes I make it early.

      1 Reply
      1. re: macca

        I do exactly the same. I do a make-ahead gravy by roasting turkey wings with some onions/carrots/celery. With that stock, I can do my gravy a couple days in advance & just reheat while carving the turkey. We like to mash our taters just before serving, but I do cook them slightly ahead of time. I drain off most of the cooking liquid, leaving just a bit at the bottom, and keep them warm on a burner set at low. When we're ready to mash them, we'll drain any remaining liquid and mash them with some heated half & half cream and butter. If we mash them a bit too early (like yesterday - our turkey wasn't quite done even though the thermometer registered the right temp, so back in the oven it went!), just leave the covered pan on a burner set at low. Stir occasionally and check that they are not drying out.

      2. One year my SIL offered to bring sides for Christmas dinner and she brought mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, obviously cooked long before - my guess is the previous day. We reheated them in the microwave per her instructions. They both tasted awful, gluey and lumpy at the same time. I don't know how she made them but she left with almost the same amount she brought.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheryl_h

          I know what you mean about gluey mashed potatoes. I have read that if you overbeat the potatoes, like with a hand mixer, there is a point where they will release more of the starch and become gluey. I think the key is to mash gently and then reheat gently.

        2. You might want to turn the mashed potatoes into a crisp-topped casserole. Refrigerate the finished mashed potatoes in a covered casserole (some caramelized onions in the mix wouldn't hurt). About 45 minutes before needed, drizzle a little olive oil over the top and bake uncovered.

          1. I had a hard time with not-warm -nough potatoes for years, so I tried to make them closer and closer to serving time so that they would remain hot. Little did I realize, I was introducing cold kitchen air and cooling them down as I mashed or whipped them.

            Now I get much better success by making them about an hour before I serve, leaving them a little moister than I would normally, tightly covering them with foil, and reheating them right before serving in the oven.

            1. I've pre-made and microwaved mashed taters many times, and they have the same texture as the ones I make at the last minute. I don't understand why they're not gluey like "everyone says". And they're gobbled up at the buffet. Maybe it depends on the potatoes you use, or the recipe? Have no idea.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Alice Patis

                Are you using a potato ricer? I'm convince a ricer is the ONLY way to go for fluffy smooth mashed potatoes that aren't gluey.

              2. I have made them early and kept them warm in a crockpot/slow cooker set on low. Just stir occasionally and add liquid if needed.

                1. You can make Mashers the day before no problem. Use Russets (the brown ones) or Yukons. Try not to stab too many times while they are boiling. Use milk or buttermilk and lots of butter, salt and pepper. If you add too much liquid you can do a quick fix with instant mashed potatoes (add them and reheat).

                  Store the mashed potatoes in tupperware or a ziplock bag (so you can stack them or squeeze them into the odd fridge space) and then when your turkey is out resting, plunk those potatoes in a pot and heat them up (you can let them come up to them by putting them out on the cabinet for a bit before heating). Adjust the consistency and seasoning if needed).

                  Keep the taters simple. Why dicker with perfection? People rarely appreciate novel potatoes on Thanksgiving.

                  1. i've always heated up some cream or milk then stirred it in to the potatoes to warm them up.

                    1. I started making my mashed potatoes early last Thanksgiving. This year, I have to make 20 pounds, so will definitely make them in the morning. After I mash them, I put them in a crock pot on lowest setting. I put a dish towel over the crock pot before I put on the crock pot cover. Keeps them perfectly- and the towel over the potatoes keeps condensation from forming and ruining the potatoes. I did this last year and it made life so much easier!

                      1 Reply
                      1. I always use a bain marie to keep them hot, but I've read that people have great success keeping them hot in the crock pot. I might try that this year??

                        As far as gravy, I make turkey stock the day after Thanksgiving and then can it. I just make sure I save a jar of stock for next year to use on TG day.

                        1. I would think you could boil or bake the potatoes mash or rice them and put them in ziploc or foodsaver bags a couple of days early. You could reheat them in gently simmering water like the old boiling bags. Once they are heated, you could make them however you normally make mashed potatoes. I would make the gravy a few days early.

                          I'm also planning on blanching and shocking the green beans and Brussels sprouts and storing both in foodsaver bags a couple of days early. On Thanksgiving, I will bring them to room temperature and saute them just before serving time.

                          Cranberry sauce can be made a few days early. It will even taste better because the flavors will meld together. I put cinnamon and orange zest and almonds in mine.

                          Oh, I would highly recommend making a schedule for when to start everything so that it comes out on time (the same time). Hold it on the frige with a magnet and use timers.

                          I'm planning on pre-chopping my onions and celery for the stuffing and putting them in foodsaver bags too.