I am so going to be written out of the will for this one.
This is a risk that I am willing to take, however.
Dear readers, I am here to save you and those with whom you dine from flavorless, lumpy, cold mashed potatoes. Alas, these are the mashed potatoes that I remember from my youth. Good grief were they awful! (Really, because I am going to be excommunicated anyway, I might as well tell you the truth.)
A holiday weekend is upon us and many of you will be plunking mashed potatoes down on the table to accompany your main course. Make these and spare everyone the trauma that I endured as a child.
- 2.5 lbs. of Yukon Gold Potatoes – In general, a person will usually eat about 2/3 of a cup of mashed potatoes. 1lb. of potatoes will make about 2 cups of mashed potatoes, so 2.5lbs. of potatoes will feed about 7-8 people. Multiply this recipe as needed to feed your crowd.
- 2/3 to 1 Cup Heavy Cream – Yes, heavy cream. Yes, you can substitute half-and-half or milk if you want. These are decadent potatoes, though. They are meant to be rich. If you are making these for a crowd, don’t skimp on the rich ingredients.
- 2 Cups of Shredded Gruyère Cheese – Have a little extra on the side just in case…
- 5-8 Strips of Crisp Cooked Bacon – You can skip this if you want to keep this recipe vegetarian.
- White Pepper
- Black Pepper
- Kosher Salt
- Scallions or Chives – These are also optional.
- Cutting Board and Knife
- Large Pot
- Potato Masher
- Grater (if you need to grate your cheese)
- Liquid Measuring Cups
- Solid Measuring Cups
- Tasting Spoons – The key to a good batch of potatoes is tasting them at each step.
- Gather up your ingredients.
- Measure out your cream first and set it aside on the counter. You want the cream to come up to as close to room temperature as possible. Putting cold cream on hot potatoes later will cool the potatoes and cold mashed potatoes are nasty.
- Grate your cheese if it’s not already grated and set it aside for the same reasons as above.
- Cut the potatoes into 1-1.5 inch cubes. They don’t have to be perfect, but you want them around the same size to cook evenly.
- Place the cut potatoes into your pot and add enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches.
- Turn the heat on high and bring the pot of water up to a boil. Add a little kosher salt once the water is boiling to help season the potatoes. Don’t skip this – you want layers of flavor here.
- Let the potatoes boil until they are fork-tender – about 15-20 minutes or so. Test them starting around the 10 minute mark by sticking a few with a fork. When they are done, they will look like this:
- Drain the potatoes into your colander and immediately dump them back into the pan or into another mixing bowl. Don’t let them sit. You want to take advantage of their temperature to mix the other ingredients in. You can keep the whole batch warm if needed later.
- Add the cheese and cream to the potatoes. Add 1/4 tsp. of white pepper and a few grinds of black pepper to start. (If you are adding bacon and chives, wait on these now -they go in later.)
- Mash the potatoes, cheese, and some of the cream together until they are blended. Add more cream to achieve the texture that you want. The cheese should leave some melted strings on your masher. Yum.
- Taste. How salty are the potatoes? How is the consistency?
- Add more white and black pepper to your taste.
- If you are adding bacon, add it now: crumble it in and fold it with a spoon or the masher. Taste for saltiness.
- Add salt as needed. Do not over-salt the potatoes, but do make sure that they have a good flavor to them.
Note: Are you getting annoyed with all of the ifs/thens in this recipe? Apologies. Please know, though, that when you are making a dish like this – you really should taste and season carefully as you go along because once you add, you cannot take away.
- Do a final mash. If you are adding chives, add them now and fold them in.
Enjoy! If you need to keep these warm, you can toss them in a warm oven in an oven-safe dish or pot. They store really well, too. To reheat, you can toss them in the oven or microwave and add a little milk to them to bring back the moisture.