Making really great, smooth (lump free), fluffy mashed potatoes – that you will become known for – is easy if you know a few techniques. Using the right potato is the first step. You want a potato that is not waxy when cooked. Russets, Idaho and Yukon Gold are all great choices. For shorter preparation time, choose large potatoes – it is much faster to peel 3 large potatoes than 6 smaller ones. You can also shorten the cooking time by cutting the potatoes into smaller chunks. This also helps more even cooking so that the outside is not overcooked before the inside is done. Potatoes should be almost overcooked but not falling apart.
It is very important to drain off all liquid and replace the potatoes on the heat to evaporate any remaining liquid. If you have accidentally overcooked the potatoes and they have a lot of liquid, leave them on low heat, shaking the pan, until the liquid is gone.
The masher should have fairly small holes to keep any lumps at a minimum. Of course, a ricer or food mill will produce wonderfully smooth and fluffy potatoes but it is a time consuming task and the potatoes cook so that they need to be reheated. Mashing is done before adding any liquid, including the butter which melts, to prevent chasing lumps around in the liquid.
Each of the liquids adds a different flavour to mashed potatoes. I love the flavour of buttermilk which is also fairly low fat. For special occasions, cream is wonderfully decadent. Do try different ones and decide for yourself which is your favourite.