Helen Jane’s Mashed Potato Recipe
3 1/2 pounds potatoes (Red, Yukon Gold, Russet, some have opinions, but they’re all fine to me.)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 stick butter
Scrub potatoes, place in a (really) large soup pot. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. Cook until potatoes give easily when poked with a fork, or about 30 minutes, whichever comes first. Remove potatoes from pot and let cool a little before peeling them.
(I know, it’s finicky to cook the potatoes with the skins on, but they just taste so much better this way. Promise.)
You can even use the fork technique above if you can’t wait to peel them.
Here’s where I use my ricer — I don’t use it for much other than mashed potatoes (so it’s stored in a fairly inconvenient spot) — but I do use it every time I make mashed potatoes. I suppose it does double duty for baby food — but we’re (thankfully) not there any more.
(I’m feeling parenthetical today. Apparently. Grin.)
I rice all the potatoes back into the pot. You could also use your potato masher and a swift elbowy motion. Then I cut the stick of butter into cubes and mix those gently through the smushed potatoes. If the potatoes are riced, I just stir the butter in. If they’re mashed, I mash the butter in with the potatoes.
It’s important not to add the half and half (or cream if you’re nasty) until all the butter is worked through the potato mash. There’s something about the oil from the butter surrounding the starch and keeping it from turning into gluey strands… I’m not sure of the exact science — I just know it works.
After potatoes are fully mashed, add the half and half or cream. Add the salt.
Taste and adjust for texture (more cream!) and taste (more salt! maybe some pepper!).
I’ve just learned from experience that the best mashed potatoes come from:
Lots of butter and cream
Lots of salt
Boiled in the peel
Mashed by hand or riced with a ricer
And there you have it.