Mashed potatoes are arguably the most popular side dish for everything from steak to fried chicken to turkey dinner. Everyone loves mashed potatoes! Except the cook. Ask any cook and they will tell you how stressful it is to make the potatoes and get them to the table hot, and the mess it leaves in the wake. However, even with the stress and mess, you still have to make the mashed potatoes. So I went on a mission for make-ahead mashed potatoes.
I tried multiple recipes and techniques. What I discovered is that there are two really great ways to make mashed potatoes in advance.Make your favorite mashed potato recipe. If you don’t have a good recipe, try mine. If you are serving them the same day you make them you can make them up to about 2.5 hours in advance and put them right in the crockpot on “warm” and they will stay wonderfully. Stir occasionally, and if you see them starting to dry out simply add touch more milk, cream or chicken broth.
If you are making them to serve more than 2 hours in advance, such as one or two days in advance, you can make the complete recipe and store them right in the crock pot, cool, cover them so saran wrap is resting on top of the potatoes to reduce air exposure and then top with the lid. Refrigerate until about 2.5 – 3 hours before serving time. Remove the saran wrap and place crockpot on “low.” Once the potatoes loosen up and become creamy again, stir occasionally. If too dry, just add small amounts of milk, creme or chicken broth until you achieve the consistency you are looking for. They will stay well for up to 3 hours after they are hot. They will stay even longer, but that is the point where I see them start to dry out so I like to keep it under 3.When you are making mashed potatoes and only need to make them a few hours in advance rather than a day or so, another great way to keep them hot is to use a double boiler. A double boiler is simply a pot with just enough water in the bottom to almost touch the bottom of the glass bowl you will set inside the pot. Bring the water to a simmer and control your heat to keep the water at a very low simmer. Insert your bowl of potatoes and cover. This method will keep the potatoes hot for up to two hours, but I like to try and keep it to 1.5 hours or less. Be careful when removing the bowl- it will get very hot!
- Using a potato ricer to make mashed potatoes will ensure fluffy potatoes.
- Russet potatoes are best for classic mashed potatoes.
- Combining butter and cream in a small saucepan to heat (do not boil) before adding to your mash makes a HUGE difference and much better mashed potatoes.
- For easy clean up, tear a brown paper bag in half, peel potatoes onto it, and roll up when done!
The secret to great, fluffy mashed potatoes is using a potato ricer and warming your butter and cream before adding them to the potatoes
- 4-5 lbs russet potatoes
- 1.5 cups half & half (organic if possible)
- 6 tbs unsalted butter
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp white pepper Black pepper is fine, but white is preferred for appearance.
Peel the potatoes, slice in half, and place into a large pot and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. (Check at 15 minutes and then at 5 minute intervals.)
Drain and mash the potatoes using a potato ricer.
While mashing, heat the half-and-half and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts.
Slowly mix in the cream sauce, salt and pepper until well incorporated and creamy. Taste for seasoning.
Try adding in parsley, chives or parmesan cheese to bring it up a notch.
The amount of ingredients is something that is not a perfect science. Much depends on the type of potatoes you are using, how creamy you like your potatoes, how salty, etc. You need to add ingredients in slowly and taste several time to get it just how YOU like it! Remember, you can always put the salt (and butter) in but you can't take it out! So be mindful.