International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Mashed Potatoes

Bowl of mashed potatoes

(Irish and American potato puree)

Image Creative Commons by Ernesto Andrade

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Mashed potatoes are popular on both Irish and American dinner tables, particularly with meals of roast beef or fried chicken. The basic recipe arrived on American shores with Irish immigrants in the 1800s. Mashed potatoes are often served topped with a dollop of butter or a richly flavored pan gravy.

Mashed potatoes are also popular in Germany where they are known as Kartoffelbrei, or Kartoffelpüree.

Handy Tip: Hold potatoes warm by placing them in a large, heatproof bowl, covering it with plastic wrap and placing the bowl over a pot of slowly simmering water.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks -- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds
  • Cream, half-and-half or milk, hot -- 3/4 to 1 cup
  • Salt -- 2 teaspoons
  • White pepper -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Butter, melted -- 6 to 8 tablespoons

Method

  1. Put the whole potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. A sharp knife should easily pierce the potatoes.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside to steam dry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Put the potatoes through a food mill or ricer, or mash in a large bowl with a potato masher. Stir in the hot cream, half-and-half or milk, salt and pepper. Then stir in the melted butter, adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

Mashed Potato Variations

  • Potatoes: The potato most commonly used for mashed potatoes is the mealy russet. But many chefs and cooks swear by the Yukon gold for its buttery color and flavor. Waxy or boiling potatoes should be avoided as they become gummy when mashed. Overmashing or using a food processor can also make the potatoes gummy.
  • Champ (Ireland): Chop one bunch of scallions and simmer with the half-and-half for about 5 minutes. Stir into the potatoes. Top the potatoes with a big dollop of butter.
  • Colcannon (Ireland): Saute 1 bunch of chopped scallions, or 1 minced onion, and 1 bunch of chopped kale, or 1/2 head shredded cabbage, with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter until wilted and softened. Stir into the mashed potatoes. Colcannon is traditionally served on Halloween in Ireland with a coin and a ring mixed in. Whomever is served the ring will be married soon. The finder of the coin can expect wealth.
  • Pommes Duchesse (France): Eliminate the cream and use half the butter. Mix 2 to 3 beaten egg yolks into the potatoes. Pipe the potatoes into a baking dish or as decorative portions onto a baking sheet. Bake in a 400ºF oven until lightly browned. Used to accompany roasts.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: To roast garlic, toss a whole unpeeled head of garlic with a little oil and place in a 500ºF oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until soft. Cut in half horizontally and squeeze out the roasted garlic. Mash the roasted garlic with the potatoes. Alternatively, 6 to 8 cloves of garlic may be boiled and then mashed with the potatoes.
  • Smashed Potatoes: Roughly mash the potatoes leaving large chunks. Popular in New England. Sometimes the potatoes are left unpeeled for a different texture and flavor. Nutrients are also conserved.
  • Other Root Vegetables: For a change of flavor, boil one or two peeled, chopped parsnips, carrots or sweet potatoes with the potatoes. Proceed with the recipe.
  • Other Possible Additions: Chopped fresh herbs, shredded cheddar cheese, horseradish, wasabi, crumbled bacon, pesto, truffles.

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