Writer Nora Ephron wisely said, “People need more mashed potatoes in their lives.” She called the silky, smooth spuds, “God’s shaving cream.”
Mashed Potatoes: Then and Now
I fondly remember my mother’s mashed potatoes. They were enhanced by nothing more than butter, milk (oleo during the war), salt and pepper.
That’s exactly how I made mine for many years, preparing them, as she did, with a wooden-handled potato masher. Some lumps remained, but those just added texture.
Then I moved onto an electric hand mixer. The handy kitchen gadget whipped the potatoes so perfectly they took on the look of a spud smoothie.
Today I Use a Ricer
Not a User-Friendly Device
A ricer does the job well. If you’re making a large Thanksgiving-size batch of potatoes, it’s best operated by a couple of people: one feeding the apparatus and the other—the stronger of the two—squeezing the handle to force the hot potatoes through the tiny holes in the sieve.
For your effort, you’ll be rewarded with fluffy potatoes.
I’ve made other changes to my mother’s recipe. It’s now acceptable to load up the bland root vegetable with decadent extras, at least, at Thanksgiving.
In addition to the butter, I add roasted garlic, half and half cream, and Boursin cheese (or cream cheese) to my holiday potatoes. They’re superb! (Recipe here)
Serve from a Bowl or from a Shell?
On many a Thanksgiving plate, you’ll find mashed potatoes nudged up against the turkey and dressing and all overlaid with a puddle of gravy.
“I make them about the same way you do,” Cyndy told me, “with Boursin cheese, butter, garlic and light cream. But then I put them back into the shell with a sprinkle of cheese and green onions before twice baking.”
Either way works for me.