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Food mill for mashed potatoes - what do you think?

The article in today's NY Times about mashed potatoes (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/14/din...) got me thinking. I have only the "practically useless" old fashioned kind of masher, but I have a great hand-cranked food mill. What if I run the cooked potatoes through that then combine with warm butter and milk and just keep warm on the stove til serving time? Will the food mill over-process the potatoes? Which disk should I use - small, medium or large holes? Many thanks in advance for your input...

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  1. I use the medium disk with good, smooth results. If the spuds are scrubbed, they can be boiled as is, and the mill will take out the skins and eyes.
    I like to add garlic sauteed in evoo instead of butter.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jayt90

      I started using my food mill for mashed potatos about a year ago, and will never use anything else. Makes them perfectly light and fluffy with no lumps, which is how I like them. Depends on how you like them I guess.

      1. re: desantmj

        Same-I use the medium holes. Also can use a potato ricer that is used for gnocchi, although of course, it will take a bit longer if you have to make a large quantity of mashed potatoes.

      2. Gives the best results by far (assuming you want a purée), even better than a ricer. I often don't bother peeling the spuds but let the disc "peel" them for me.

        4 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          I use the potato ricer for small amounts, the food mill for large amounts but I like the large holes personally, like a little bit of chunk with my mashed potatoes.

          1. re: Budser1228

            Good point. The different sized holes do give different textures -- yet another advantage food mills have over ricers.

            1. re: carswell

              My ricer has three discs, just like my food mill. I prefer the ricer over the food mill for mashed potatoes - it works the starch less and produces a lighter consistency. But the food mill is better than the other alternatives.

              Steam or boil your pototoes in their skins (for mashed potatoes, I don't find that boiling in salted water is as important is it is in boiled potatoes that will be eaten whole), and let your ricer or food mill deal with the skins.

              1. re: Karl S

                I agree - and my ricer also has three discs.

        2. I find the food mill too much hassle for what you get. I find a good old masher gives you nearly the same end results with a lot less hardware to clean up. Plus, mashed potatoes actually benefit from a few lumps--makes them homier, in my opinion.

          One other negative re the food mill: Unless you have a state of the art stainless steel one, the tin plating gives the food a "tinny" taste. I had this problem when using my old food mill to puree some tomatoes. Granted, tomatoes are more acidic than potatoes and thus more likely to cause the metal to rub off, but why risk your potatoes when a masher is so much easier? By the way, I tossed my old food mill and got a stainless steel one from Oxo. Much better & no tinny taste. But I still just mash them.

          My mother in law gave me a great hint for keeping mashed potatoes warm when I first got married: Season and mash them with lots of butter and milk, and then return them to the saucepan with an extra pat of butter. Cover them over the lowest possible heat setting on your stovetop--anything higher might scorch the potatoes. (You can even turn the burner off periodically if they stay there longer than a half hour or so). The potatoes will actually puff up ("souffle") a little in the pan, and they might even develop a pretty crust on top. This has been a lifesaver for me when executing a big meal with lots of sides.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tkalex9052

            "One other negative re the food mill: Unless you have a state of the art stainless steel one, the tin plating gives the food a "tinny" taste."

            I've been using food mills, none of them state of the art, for decades (and some of the mills were probably decades old) and I've never, ever encountered this problem with potatoes, tomatoes or any number of other vegetables, not to mention things like spaetzle.

          2. If you can find one, a Spaetzle press is great for making mashed potatoes. You can add the butter to the potatoes as you run them through. This will give you smooth mashed potatoes without any lumps every time.

            1. Ina Garten swears by her food mill for several tasks, mashing potatos is high on that list........good enough for Ina, etc etc

              1. I use the medium or small hole ricer. Also, I keep them warm over a bain marie (just put the covered pot of mashed potatoes over a slightly smaller pot of barely simmering water). Another tip I got from a Fresh Air podcast of America's Test Kitchen is to cook the potatoes right in the buttermilk - saves a step.

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