Put away your peeler! My easy way for foolproof mashed potatoes: score potatoes around the center, then boil them in their skins. Leave them in the hot pot until just before you want to mash them – the peels will keep the flesh from becoming waterlogged while the potatoes sit, and the scored skins slip easily off the cooked potatoes.
- Potatoes (I like Yukon Gold for their medium size and creamy flesh)
- Butter (1 tablespoon per pound of potatoes)
- Milk (I like whole milk; 1/2 cup per pound of potatoes)
- Salt (about 3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt per pound of potatoes; or a scant 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
- Ground pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon per pound of potatoes)
- Scrub potatoes. Using a small sharp knife, score each potato (cut lightly through the skin) in a circle around the center of each potato. Place potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them all with room to spare.
- Fill pot with water to cover potatoes completely. Bring to boil on high heat, then reduce to a low simmer.
- Cook time varies depending on the size of your potatoes – plan on at least 30 minutes. I’m pretty relaxed about overcooking whole potatoes, because the skins will protect the flesh from getting watery. Test with a fork, or you can see they’re well done when the skins are splitting from the scored center.
- Leave potatoes in hot covered pot until you are ready to make the mashed potatoes. They will stay hot for quite a long time in the hot water.
- When you are ready to make the mashed potatoes, drain the potatoes in a colander. Depending on how hot they are, you may need kitchen gloves to protect your hands as you peel the potatoes. Put the peeled potatoes back in the pot.
- Add butter to potatoes and mash them. I use a simple hand masher, but you can also use a potato ricer. Heat milk (because you don’t want lukewarm potatoes). Add hot milk, salt and pepper and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot.
- Plan on 1/3 to 1/2 pound of potatoes per person.
- For 6-8 people: 3 lbs potatoes, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 cups milk.
- For 10-15 people: 5 lbs of potatoes; 5 tablespoons butter, 2 1/2 cups milk.
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