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How to make the ultimate mashed potatoes
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Susan Selasky for the Detroit Free Press

In his cookbook “Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked — and Fried, Too” (Workman), author Raghavan Iyer writes that “the secret to mashed potatoes lies in the right floury potato (the russet), a potato ricer and, of course, indulgent fats such as cream and butter.”

Here is Iyer’s basic recipe that you can season as you like. This recipe easily doubles or triples.

Ultimate mashed potatoes

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives or herbs of choice

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and give them a good rinse under running water.
  2. Cut them into quarters, place them in a medium-size pan and cover them with cold water.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and gently boil the potatoes until they fall apart easily when pierced with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan pour the cream and add the cream cheese, butter, salt and peppercorns. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, whisking occasionally, until the cream bubbles, the cheese softens and becomes smooth, and the butter melts, 5 to 8 minutes. Keep the cream warm over very low heat until the potatoes are done.
  5. Drain the potatoes in a colander and give it a gentle shake to remove excess water.
  6. Return the potatoes to the pan. Dry them out over low heat until the surface appears dry, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Working in batches, if necessary, transfer the potatoes to a ricer and press them through into a serving bowl. (If you don’t have a ricer, use a potato masher and fluff them very thoroughly with a fork when completely mashed.)
  8. Pour the pepper-speckled cream over the potatoes and sprinkle with the chives. Fold together with a spatula just until the liquid is incorporated. Don’t over-mix. Serve hot.

Notes

From "Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked -- and Fried, Too," by Raghavan Iyer (Workman).

Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Nutrition information not available.

Beyond ultimate: How to make some additions to your mashed potatoes

Here are a few flavor options suggested by Iyer.

  • Swirl 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary and 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves into the just-heated cream.
  • Add 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves just before you fold the liquid into the potatoes.
  • As you boil the potatoes, add 3 or 4 large garlic cloves and a small onion, coarsely chopped. Rice them all together for an earthy base.
  • Toast 3 or 4 dried red chiles (such as chile de arbol; stems discarded and seeds left intact) and a tablespoon of coriander seeds in a tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the chiles blacken slightly and the coriander seeds are reddish brown, 2 to 3 minutes, transfer them, oil and all, to a mortar and pound the mix to blend. Fold this into the cream as it simmers instead of the peppercorns.
  • Toast a jalapeño or two over an open flame, holding them with tongs and turning them around to blister the skin on all sides. Discard the stems and add the chiles to the potatoes as they boil. Do not discard the seeds from the jalapeños; mashed potatoes are an excellent medium for modulating the heat of the capsaicin in the chiles. Rice the potatoes and chiles together for a pleasant green color and some smoky heat.

How to make the ultimate mashed potatoes

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