Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching and, no doubt, a roasted turkey will be on many menus. Beautifully bronzed turkeys grace the covers of November food magazines with numerous ideas for roasting the perfect bird. Supermarkets feature turkeys in their weekly ads. We have choices: We can purchase large turkeys or small turkeys; we can buy frozen turkeys or fresh turkeys. And if you have questions about roasting the big bird, Butterball has a consumer hotline staffed by several dozen home economists to answer your turkey questions.
Today I am going to let the turkey hotline answer the turkey questions while I focus on those that have to do with mashed potatoes. After all, what would Thanksgiving be without a fabulous dish of them?
There are lots of different kinds of potatoes. Can you use any of them to make mashed potatoes? I usually use the instant kind but want to make real ones for Thanksgiving.
The best potatoes for mashing are those considered starchy, such as Idaho potatoes, sometimes referred to as baking potatoes. Other potatoes favored for mashing are Yukon Gold or similar light-skinned potatoes with golden interiors. Starchy potatoes stay fluffy, while waxy potatoes will tend to be heavy and gummy.
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Does it matter if you start boiling potatoes in hot or cold water?
When boiling potatoes, always start in cold water with a little salt for seasoning. Potatoes are very dense, and if you start them in hot water, the outside will become soft quickly while the interior is still hard. Starting in cold water allows the potato to absorb the heat more evenly, and the potato will cook evenly.
What is the best way to mash potatoes so they are not lumpy? Sometimes I use the mixer, and one time I tried the food processor. The food processor was a mess, and they turned out like a sticky pudding. There must be a better way.
In my experience, the best way to mash potatoes is to use a potato ricer. My favorite one is heavy-weight and made of stainless steel. With the ricer placed over a large bowl, simply fill the hopper with cooked potatoes and press them through. The task goes very quickly, and the ricer is easy to use and easy to clean. Once the potatoes are pressed through the ricer, add the butter, cream and seasonings; then, simply stir the potatoes to mix all the ingredients.
Creamy Yukon Gold
5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup butter (reserve 2 tablespoons for top), room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup cream (can substitute half-and-half or whole milk), heated
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, optional
Garnish: Chopped scallions or chopped chives
Peel potatoes; cut into quarters. Place potatoes in a large saucepan over high heat with 1 teaspoon salt and enough cold water to cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Drain well.
Run potatoes through a potato ricer for the fluffiest potatoes. Add butter and cream, chives, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Add more warm cream if needed for thinner consistency. Spoon into heated bowl. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Garnish with chives or scallions if desired.