Tips & Techniques Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes, Many Ways

A big bowl of mashed potatoes is always a welcome addition to the Thanksgiving feast. For many families, this comforting side dish is as essential as the roast turkey. Mashed potatoes take well to myriad variations, as you will discover with these recipes. But however you like to prepare your mashed potatoes, you can benefit from considering the following tips.

Choosing Potatoes

Russets are the classic mashing potato because their dry, highly starchy flesh readily absorbs butter and milk. Medium-starch varieties also work well, particularly Yukon gold potatoes, which are a favorite in part for their buttery color.

Prepare the Potatoes

When using high-starch potatoes such as russets, consider cooking them with the skin on. High-starch potatoes have dry-absorbent flesh, which means they readily take on cooking water if they are peeled and cut up. Whether or not you plan to peel the potatoes, scrub and rinse them well.

Cook the Potatoes

Put the potatoes in a 5-qt. (5-l) pot and add water to cover them by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Add 1 tsp. of salt to the water to season the potatoes. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer the potatoes until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 25 to 30 minutes.

Peel the Potatoes

Drain the potatoes, then transfer them to a cutting board. Using the tip of a paring knife, slit the skin of each potato lengthwise to create a starting place for peeling. Working with 1 potato at a time, and using a fork to hold it steady, use tongs to peel off the skin. Put the peeled potatoes back into the empty cooking pot, cover, and set aside.

Mash the Potatoes

For smooth, fluffy mashed potatoes, pass the potatoes through a potato ricer back into the pot. Alternatively, for chunky mashed potatoes, use a potato masher to press down on the potatoes, turning the masher a little each time and working your way around the pot as needed to break up the potatoes.

Make-Ahead Tip

To make mashed potatoes ahead, place your prepared mashed potatoes in a buttered dish. Let cool, cover with foil and place in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for approximately 1 hour. Bake in a 350-degree oven, covered, for about 30 minutes or until warmed through.