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Mashed Potato Indecision...

I know everyone's busy worrying about their own menus, but I could use a bit of advice... I've been toying with making several different mashed potato recipes, and just can't seem to decide. Of course, all of them have loyal devotees and opponents - some say "best ever" while the reviewer below says "i wouldn't serve these to my enemy" - well maybe not that extreme, but you get the idea. The variations I've been mulling over:

-Red Potatoes with Horseradish and Gouda
-Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes - based on Ina Garten
-White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
-Smashed Parmesan Potatoes - based on Ina Garten
-Make Ahead Sour Cream and Chive - http://www.recipezaar.com/To-Die-for-...

Does anyone have a wow-your-socks-off recipe they can suggest instead, or have insight on making a decision amongst these?


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  1. I wouldn't do the sour cream and chive, because 1) that doesn't sound like a good foil for turkey gravy and 2) too much fat swimming in the recipe for a meal that's already pretty heavy.

    The horseradish and gouda one sounds good, esp. if you leave the skins on the redskin potatoes. We make a redskin mash with a little cottage cheese stirred in, which gives them a slight tang (and I swear makes them taste just like a MD rotisserie chicken chain's, Chicken Out). Again, though, I wonder about the strong flavors competing with your gravy.

    Garlic/cheddar...nah. Maybe as a second option if you want to have two kinds.

    Smashed parmesan mashed potatoes are reputed to be amazing. I'd probably go for the buttermilk recipe, though, just for the pure simplicity of flavors.

    But really, it's hard to go wrong with mashed potatoes...unless you undercook them or something :)

    1. With all of the flavors from the rest of the meal, for Thanksgiving I do simple mashed potatoes. Peel, dice and boil Russets, drain saving the potato water. Heat REAL unsalted butter with milk in microwave. Mash potatoes and add sufficient butter and milk to gain a fluffy but not soggy texture, season with kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper. Serve. Then I put the potato water in the refrigerator, promising myself I will make potato bread with it. But I hardly ever do. '-)

      11 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        Right on Caroline1! .... I dry the drained potatoes over the fire for a few seconds to get all the water out and ready for the milk and butter! Nuttin' better'n reall taters and turkey gravy!

        1. re: Caroline1

          I agree, NOT flavored! Gravy, and evrything else needs simple mashed potatoes.

          1. re: Liz K

            Thanks all for the replies... I know that I shouldn't make something that "competes," but I do want something that stands out as really great... as in "I want the recipe!" I guess I'll decide between the smashed parmesan and buttermilk. I wanted to use red potatoes and leave the skins on. I think that goes better with the smashed parm, or at least, I know Ina's Buttermilk recipe uses Yukon gold.

            1. re: Emme

              Without the actual recipes in front of me, are any similar enough that you could separate some, to keep for plain mashed potatoes, yet continue with some final ingredients (additional cream, cheese, garlic, ect.) to arrive at your second flavor - but minimize the work on your end?

              1. re: enbell

                they all provide for that opportunity... i was just indecisive about the final flavor combos i wanted...

              2. re: Emme

                Emme, resist! Leave the flavored potatoes for another meal. If this is for Thanksgiving, keep them plain, fluffy as opposed to rich and silky, and tasting of potato most of all.

                If your crowd is anything like every one I've ever cooked for, the combination of potatoes and gravy is possibly the most important part of the meal (though I detest it personally). Flavored potatoes are anathema to gravy.

                1. re: dmd_kc

                  Alright, so I'm looking at going simple... http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/b... and thinking I'll add garlic to the water when the potatoes cook.

            2. re: Caroline1

              Less is more, that is the perfect recipe, sometimes I add a little marscapone to it as well.

              1. re: Caroline1

                Simple, well-made Yukon Gold mashed potatoes knock my socks off. I adore he color and silky texture, not to mention the mild starchy-ness. Mashed potatoes are like eggs, anyone can whip up a batch, but far less folks can cook them well.

                As a personal preference, gravy for me belongs over simple mashed potatoes, otherwise you're overwhelmed by the garlic, cheese horseradish, or whatever else is in the potatoes and it competes with the gravy.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  I hadn't realised (till I just looked it up) that Yukon Gold is a Canadian developed potato.

                2. re: Caroline1

                  Excellent advice, Caroline. We do the exact same thing. Makes them perfect for the beautiful turkey gravy,

                3. I've like the Cook's Country (Cook's Illustrated) Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I've made them several times lately. You just add a small amount of liquid and poach the potatoes. No need to drain them. This technique preserves all the flavor and doesn't pour it down the drain. Here's a link to the recipe. You have to enter your e-mail address (you are added to their mailing list) to see the recipe:


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Antilope

                    **** Paraphrased Recipe ****

                    Garlic Mashed Potatoes

                    Cook's Country TV From the episode: Fail-Safe Thanksgiving

                    This recipe uses just the right amount of liquid to cook the potatoes without the need to drain them. This method of preparation retains all of the flavor.

                    When the potatoes are cut into 1/2-inch pieces they present maximum surface area to absorb the garlic flavor.

                    Serves 8 to 10.


                    4 pounds russet potatoes , peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
                    12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into pieces (divided use)
                    12 garlic cloves , minced
                    1 teaspoon sugar
                    1 1/2 cups half-and-half (divided use)
                    1/2 cup water
                    1 teaspoon salt
                    Salt and pepper


                    1. Rinse cut potatoes, in a colander, under cold running water. Continue to rinse until the water runs clear. Rinsing eliminates extra starch that causes gluey mashed potatoes. Drain well.

                    2. In a dutch oven, melt 4 Tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Cook the garlic and sugar in the butter until it is straw color and sticky. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes. Now add the previously rinsed potatoes, 1-1/4 cups of half-and-half (reserve 1/4 cup until later), water, and 1 teaspoon of salt to the dutch oven. Stir well to mix all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the dutch oven. Cook (stirring occasionally) until the liquid is absorbed and potatoes are tender. This should take 25 to 30 minutes.

                    3. Remove from heat when done and add remaining butter. Using a potato masher, mash until potatoes are smooth. Fold in remaining 1/4 cup of half-and-half with a rubber spatula. Continue to fold until liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

                    1. re: Antilope

                      Hi, this is a great recipe! Can I freeze it ahead of time?

                      1. re: tiger615

                        I don't know. I have not tried freezing it.

                  2. Keep it simple, mashed with butter and half-and-half.

                    And above all russet potatoes, not reds or whites -- much better texture.

                    1. Russets. Simple. But with a twist that will make everyone ask for the recipe? Gotcha. You'll need a package of cream cheese per 5 pound of potatoes. Done! ;)

                      Cream cheese is always my secret ingredient -- a little tang, a little richness, just something that makes people wonder why the mashed potatoes are SO DOGGONE GOOD. This is the second generation of this super-secret trick, and it's no-fail. You won't regret it... ;)

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: LauraGrace

                        Do you use a food mill? I was planning on beating mine with a paddle attachment this year... Do you mash them with cream cheese and butter first, then add milk or half and half to get desired consistency?

                        1. re: Emme

                          I use the whip attachment on my KitchenAid. I heat up milk/cream while the spuds are boiling. When they're done I put hot spuds plus cut-up cream cheese into KA, salt and pepper, half a stick of butter. Slowly start the KA, add milk/cream as the mixer is going. Speed it up while adding the milk/cream. 10 seconds is the max once I've reached the proper mashed potato consistency with the milk/cream. I prefer the whip attachment to the paddle.

                          1. re: LauraGrace

                            Another idea is a ricer. Many chefs don't like using a masher or a mixer. Also, I was watching America's Test Kitchen and they suggested first peeling and cutting the potatoes into like pieces, and after a little time boiling, rinse them off to get rid of the starches. And then boil them more.

                            1. re: miki

                              I also use my KA whip attachment, because my husband's family likes it that way. I grew up with the hand masher, and would like it a little chunkier if it was up to me (or if my family was coming). There is no right or wrong. And another vote for russets, after using Yukon Golds for years, I decided I much prefer the fluffiness of russets instead.

                              1. re: miki

                                I'd love to have a ricer or a food mill! I use the whip attachment and just don't beat the spuds to death -- only until everything is incorporated. Better a lump or two than gummy mashed potatoes!!

                                1. re: LauraGrace

                                  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! That's right, my potato ricer broke. I meant to pick one up when I ran to the grocery store this morning, but it was such a madhouse, that my "mental" list did not cut it, and I forgot. Well, I'll have to put that back on the list as I know I'll need one more grocery run.

                                  In the meantime, in response to the OP, I think simple mashed potatoes are best. Just with butter, S&P, and maybe a little creme fraiche, sour cream, or buttermilk. Despite being named second, "gravy" is the star of the "mashed potatoes and gravy" duo.


                                  1. re: LauraGrace

                                    I got my Farberware type masher at a thrift shop for less than $1, it's a great place to find old fashioned utensils. And so heavy, I'm sure nothing today is made like it. I could mix cement if I wanted. I also recently found a Foley food mill, the one with the wooden handle, for $2. If your church has something like this, you should check it out, and the money goes to good use too.

                                    PS just got back from the grocery store, thought I was finally done and realized in the parking lot I forgot molassas. Wasn't going back in, can't believe how crowded the stores are this year. So only if I have to go back tomorrow, otherwise I'll improvise.

                                    1. re: LauraGrace

                                      I really love my Wm-Sonoma ricer; I gave my old one (not W-S) away because this one is so superior. The one they carry now costs more but is bigger; with mine, it takes longer. I'm going to try someone's suggestion to make them and then park them in a crock pot.

                                      1. re: walker

                                        There's a very old classic French way (that I'm sure is practically unheard of in today's food circles) of ricing the potatoes onto a serving dish or bowl, letting the naturally mound up into a tall "mountain." Then, just before serving, top them with melted butter that will cascade down the sides. Don't stir!! It goes to the table like that. I've also served potatoes this way for buffet service, then surrounded the white mountain of spuds with small bowls of plain butter, truffled (or herbed) butter, sour cream, grated cheese, chopped chives and such. BIG hit! And what could be easier?

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          Wow, what a lovely, delicious image.


                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            Matterhorn mashed potatoes? Your description is too vivid for me--or perhaps my imagination is. I want to see butter cascade down the mountain, magically depleting the dish of any excess calories as it swooshes down! :) Seriously, that sounds very cool.

                              2. Have you looked at the recipe for mashed potato, cheese, and chive gratin on epicurious? It would be a sort of similar idea to the chive recipe you have above, but with fewer other competing flavors. It also can be made ahead.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mountaincachers

                                  Thanks for the rec, but a gratin is not an option. I must do mashed. :-)

                                  1. re: Emme

                                    It is actually mashed potatoes, but mashed then baked. (Though you could also just mash them following this recipe and skip the baking). It has both sour cream and cream cheese in them, which makes them very rich and creamy (though obviously not low cal). At any rate, they are delicious, and may give you the little bit of interest that you are looking for, but still gravy compatible. Check out the recipe on epicurious.

                                2. I vote for Ina's Parmesan Smashed Potatoes. The parmesan is subtle, and they are so, so amazing.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: valerie

                                    Now I must decide between these and LauraGrace's more standard recipe above... Decisions, decisions...

                                  2. anyone have experience with making the potatoes ahead and holding them in a crockpot? Potatoes have always been a messy, rushed last-minute job in my house and Im thinking if I can get them done earlier in the day it would be a blessing.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                      I looked at this recipe http://www.recipezaar.com/To-Die-for-... and am still considering it for that very reason...

                                      1. re: Emme

                                        Again, this is very similar to the mashed potato gratin recipe on epicurious. You mash the potatoes, put them in a dish, and then bake them. The recipe says you can keep them at room temperature after mashing and bake them 2 hours later. Having had the tasty leftovers the next day, I can say they hold longer than that.

                                        1. re: Emme

                                          I agree with the others that the fancy potato recipes dont really fit the thanksgiving meal - I dont want cream cheese, sour cream or any other enhancement - other than butter milk salt and pepper - in my potatoes which are really designed to go with the gravy.

                                        2. re: jen kalb

                                          Not sure if this will help you but I only have experience making Ina's Parmesan Smashed Potatoes ahead of time. Although it does not say it on this link, she has a sidebar in the cookbook saying "to reheat, put smashed potatoes in an ovenproof baking dish and sprinkle with 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes".

                                          I have made them the day before on more than one occasion and I have never been let down. The biggest problem is stopping myself from eating them before I can get them into the refrigerator!


                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            jen, sweet potatoes keep fine in a crock pot. I always think sweet potatoes are a litter sturdier, though.


                                            1. re: jen kalb


                                              Think microwave and covered Pryex. You may have to hydrate, but I have used this method for over, well, lots of years. Start with one minute intervals, heat and stir. Add liquid as needed; I use milk. The glass gets hot and holds the heat; the fat in the mash gets hot and also holds the heat.


                                            2. I always make a little roasted garlic & put a few cloves in there when I am putting my potatoes thru the ricer (I would never use a mixer--makes them gummy)--the garlic doesn't compete with the gravy & it just adds a subtle sweetness. As far as make ahead. You can cook your potatoes & put them thru the ricer & then put the bowl of riced potatoes in the fridge overnight. Take them out at least an hour before serving, nuke them for about 1 1/2 minutes (depending on how big a bowl) and then stir in hot milk/cream & butter. Do not mix them until you stir in the hot liquid & they will be perfect. I did this last year & couldn't believe it. Overmixing will screw up your potatoes---ricers are cheap & worth every penny.

                                              1. To report back... first off, thanks for all the suggestions...

                                                I took inspiration from Martha Stewart's mother's recipe that uses cream cheese, butter, milk and heavy cream. Ended up using more milk than called for. I thought they were just okay. I was afraid they would be gummy, but they turned out alright over the stove... I had to add a bit of chicken stock to loosen them up... My grandmother asked for the recipe, but that's really no indication. Everyone said they were good, but I would do something different next year. People raved over my roast chickens, so I considered that my main victory of the evening.

                                                Thanks again!

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Emme

                                                  I'm glad it turned out well.

                                                  The way America's Test Kitchen did them was interesting. First, they used Yukon Golds. Then they peeled them and cut them into cubes of uniform size. Then they took them out of the water part of the way through boiling and rinsed them, to get the starch off. And then they used the ricer at the end. They didn't use heavy cream, but they said using butter and milk was essential.

                                                  1. re: miki

                                                    Did ATK peel before starting to boil at all? I boiled then peeled, and it was not fun. I don't think I would use the paddle attachment, as Martha Stewart's recipe suggested, again. Some suggest the whisk attachment, but I think I might just go with the ricer, then maybe hand whisk it to get in a little air at the end... don't know.

                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                      Suzanne Goin's recipe calls for boiling them whole, letting them cool a bit, and then peeling.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        That's what I did with russets--boiled whole, cooled & then peeled.It was fairly easy to peel them--certainly no harder than when they are raw. I did notice that they were not the least bit watery this way which was my goal. Then I riced them & 5 hours later, nuked them & stirred in the warm milk & butter. They were perfection.

                                                      2. re: Emme

                                                        ATK said they USED to suggest boiling, then peeling, but that peeling off hot potatoes just leads to burns, so now they suggest peeling first. Also, I don't imagine rinsing halfway through the boiling process would help much with the skins on. I LOVE skins; that's where you find the nutrition, and I like mashed potatoes with the skins, but my kids won't touch them.

                                                      3. re: miki

                                                        Clearly, there are dozens of ways to make mashed potatoes, but I'm throwing Tyler Florence's idea into the mix as the following suggestions are inspired:
                                                        - addition of whole grain mustard
                                                        - boil potatoes unpeeled with thyme and garlic

                                                        Of course, he also suggested boiling them in milk and heavy cream, which I didn't want to do, so I boiled in stock and milk. There is no need to remove the skins (and prior to this, I always have). They were fantastic. Oh, and I added sour cream and some of the stock/milk liquid while beating them. :)

                                                        Picture here--note the lovely ripples--I used a hand mixer instead of my KA:

                                                        Recipe here:

                                                    2. I find Russets are best for light whipped potatoes.
                                                      Here's an explanation from About.com:

                                                      Choosing the right potato to mash will depend on whether you prefer smooth and creamy style or mashed potatoes with a bit of texture (ie., lumpy or the new chef's favorite, smashed).

                                                      Waxy potatoes, such as Red Rose, White Rose, and Yukon Gold varieties, are recommended for boiling applications because they have less starch and a higher moisture content. They hold up to boiling and do not absorb as much water. Waxy potatoes tend to result in a more flavorful end product, but it can be difficult to get a really smooth texture without turning them to glue.

                                                      Idaho and russet potatoes have a higher starch content and lower moisture, resulting in a mealier texture when cooked. This means they absorb more moisture and tend to fall apart when boiled. Thus, if you prefer a smoother texture, use mealy potatoes but steam rather than boil.

                                                        1. I just noticed this post and thought I'd add my favorite new pairing.
                                                          Make your classic mashed potatoes and then add a small amount of the new
                                                          smoked blue cheese from Roth Kase, "Moody Blue".
                                                          It has a fantastic flavor of bacon, and it's a pairing made in Heaven.
                                                          This is how we sampled it at our cheese shop. It literally drove the women crazy.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                            Dear god, that sounds good. I will have to keep an eye out for "Moody Blue"--thanks for the recommendation!

                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                              Your welcome. If you bring some home, try it over grilled asparagus or Haricot Vert.

                                                            1. there are so many ways to go, but my family's favorite basic mashed is more of a whipped potato. peel and simmer 5 large russets until fork tender. drain. add 1 cup hot milk with 1 stick butter and 2 tablespoons cream cheese melted in. mash by hand. when they're smooshed switch to hand mixer and beat until smooth. add more hot milk to adjust texture and finish with 2 - 3 tablespoons bacon grease. seasalt and pepper to taste. these hold well and re-fluff if needed.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: appycamper

                                                                These sound great, especially the cream cheese. But a CUP of milk? I usually boil 6 potatoes and just pour in a small amount, seems like a cup would make them almost sauce-like. ????

                                                                1. re: chigirlmi

                                                                  A cup sounds right to me, not that I ever measure. The potatoes absorb everything very well.

                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                    they really do take a good amount of milk without getting gloppy. starting with five large (baking size) potatoes it's less the 2 tablespoons of milk per potato. the consistency i'm going for is whipped rather than smashed so it might actually take a bit more.

                                                                    1. re: appycamper

                                                                      i'm slightly confused... you say 5 potatoes with a cup of milk is less than 2 tbsp per potato, but a cup of milk is 16 tablespoons... am i missing something? thanks!

                                                                      1. re: Emme

                                                                        emme, you are completely correct! my bad for not double checking. so a touch over 3 tablespoons for each large spud. sorry.

                                                                        1. re: appycamper

                                                                          no problem, i just wanted to make sure i wasn't misunderstanding something :-)

                                                              2. A second on the post to dry out the potatoes a few seconds over the fire after draining. This seems to intensify the "tater" flavor. ....And...Youkon Golds make awesome mashed!

                                                                1. I saw Mashed Potato Indecision when they opened for String Cheese Incident in Madison Square Garden back in ought-4. Never would have guessed they'd make it so far.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                    i have a t-shirt from their '06 bacon bits extravaganza. the hash brown homage was awesome.