So knowing how to make them the right way is kind of essential. And while they seem easy enough to whip up on the fly, there are a few trick you can employ to ensure your mash is fluffy and light instead of gloppy and gloopy.
Here's how to master mashed potatoes:
1. Choose the right potato(es)Starchy potatoes like Russets are the classic and best choice for mashed potatoes. Their high starch content guarantees a light, fluffy result that easily soaks up butter and cream. Using low-starch, waxy potatoes such as fingerlings or red-skinned potatoes will result in a mash that's gummy.
However, while Russets make for a fluffy mash, they do tend to be milder in flavor than some other varieties. Combining Russets with a flavorful potato, such as Yukon Golds (which are lower in starch than Russets, but totally big on flavor) makes for a richer, more buttery-tasting mash.
2. Cut the potatoes evenlyFor classic Thanksgiving potatoes, you'll want to peel them first. Start by peeling one potato, cutting it into large, even chunks and placing the chunks directly into a bowl of cold water. Then continue with the next potato. Placing potatoes directly into the water will keep them from browning and rinse off some excess starch.
3. Boil potatoes starting with cold waterDrain the chopped potatoes and then transfer to a large pot and cover them with fresh cold water. Bringing your potatoes to a boil with the water rather than adding them to already boiling water will ensure they cook evenly—this is also why you want evenly chopped potatoes: so that a small chunk doesn't overcook while you're waiting for a larger one to be done.
Potatoes are pretty much a blank slate when it comes to flavor, so it's important to season as you go. Generously salt the water you use to boil your potatoes. "I also like boiling the potatoes with whole peeled garlic," says former Epi editor Adina Steiman. The garlic infuses into the potatoes as they cook, adding a subtle savory flavor.
Rice the potatoes"A potato ricer is the best way to make mashed potatoes," says senior food editor Anna Stockwell: it's the best way to limits lumps, prevents you from overworking the potatoes, and makes things go along more quickly than using other methods. Want mashed potatoes that are fluffy rather than gluey? Put the potato masher aside and reach for a ricer instead.
Thanksgiving isn't the right time to put a hold on fat. Reach for high-quality unsalted butter (so you can control the salt yourself), whole milk, and real cream for the ultimate mash. Let the butter soften to room temperature—if you melt it, you'll loose the emulsion resulting in potatoes that are less creamy.
However, for maximum absorption—and so you don't cool down the potatoes too quickly—you'll want to heat up the milk and cream. Don't bring it to a boil, just heat it until it's hot to the touch or you start to see steam rising from the pot. Feel free to toss in a few fresh thyme sprigs, garlic cloves, or bay leaves to infuse the milk while it warms up—just be sure to leave them behind in the pot when you pour the milk into the potatoes. If you want to add tang, swap out some of the milk for buttermilk, sour cream, or full-fat Greek yogurt. Since they'll curdle when heated, these can be added cold.
6. Reheat the right wayYes, you can make mashed potatoes ahead of time. The challenge is reheating them while keeping them luscious. Potatoes continue to absorb moisture as they sit, so former food editor Katherine Sacks recommends keeping some of the milk you're putting in the mash to the side to use when you reheat it. "Make the mashed potatoes a bit drier then you want them to be. When you're ready to reheat them, simmer the remaining milk in a pot, stir in the mash, cover and warm over low heat."
ENJOY! EAT WELL MY FRIENDS!