Sunday, August 14, 2011

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

One of my son's favorite things is mashed potatoes and gravy. One of the stories that he always asks me to tell is The Mashed Potatoes and Gravy Fiasco. He had a toothache and I had been buying him mashed potatoes and gravy from Popeye's a few days, when I realized the toothache was not a passing thing. I also realized that paying Popeye's $3 every day for a container of mashed potatoes with gravy was not a financially savvy move - so I did the unthinkable...I bought instant mashed potatoes and gravy mix from a packet (which I had never done in my life).

I made the instant potatoes and the gravy mix and plopped it in front of him and said, "Dig in." He took one bite, said it was awful and refused to eat more. I went on a five-minute mom rant about how I had not browned meat to make real gravy and this would have to do. This or nothing. Eat it or else. He kept complaining. Peeved and to prove my point, I grabbed the spoon, took a huge bite...and then said, "Oh my God, that's awful. I am so sorry. Don't eat another bite!"

This happened when he was five. He's almost eight and he will come ask me to tell the Mashed Potato story again. It cracks him up every time. (Ah, childhood memories!)

Serious Eats has found the perfect mashed potato recipe for me. Now if I can only figure out how to make the perfect gravy for accompaniment without browning any meat. (My mother swore that he would not be able to tell the difference in the gravy from the jar if I doctored it up enough. She was wrong.

There's a lesson here - NEVER make your child homemade gravy unless you want to continue making it the rest of your life!) ;)

Perfect Mashed Potatoes
4 pounds yukon gold (or other yellow fleshed potatoes), cut into 3 inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups milk or half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes, garlic, and salt and simmer, partially covered, over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and garlic are fork-tender.

Drain the potatoes and garlic and return to the pot over high heat. Cook, tossing the potatoes, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until all the moisture is evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, oil, and milk over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add to the potatoes and whip with a wooden spoon or whisk to a smooth but not soupy consistency. Mash any pieces of garlic until totally pureed. When the liquid is absorbed, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately. To prepare in advance, make up to 4 hours ahead, cover, and keep at room temperature. Reheat gently in the top of a double boiler over medium heat, adding extra milk as needed and adjusting the seasonings.

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