I can’t mention mashed potatoes unless I also mention another one of those Southern terms with which I was raised, creamed or whipped potatoes. Simply stated, creamed potatoes at my house were boiled white potatoes whipped up with an electric hand mixer with the added ingredients of cream or whole milk, butter, salt, and sometimes a sprinkle of pepper.
As I remembered how potatoes were prepared when I was growing up, I suddenly understood why I have had a vague feeling of disappointment in the mashed/creamed/whipped potatoes that I have made for many years. In trying to reduce my fat intake I inadvertently really slew the recipe. Skim milk instead of whole milk or cream, no butter; what was I thinking? I most humbly repent.
Mashed potatoes, however, have taken on a whole new persona with the advent of roasted garlic mashed potatoes and “ultimate” mashed potatoes. The ultimate mashed potatoes have everything except the kitchen sink (which would really be counter-productive to flavor)—roasted garlic, sour cream, grated cheese (various types), salt (again, various types), freshly ground pepper, chives, etc. I’m using a towel to sop up the drool.
For this recipe, let’s keep it simple. The measurements are vague because the amounts are relative to how many people you are feeding and how much moisture your potatoes need. Count on 1 medium potato per person, 2 potatoes per person if you are feeding potato fans.
Basic Creamed Potatoes
- Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (halve medium potatoes, quarter large potatoes)
- Butter, melted (about 1½ teaspoons per potato or a tablespoon if you’re in the mood to live dangerously)
- Cream or half and half (about 1to 1 1/2 cups per six medium potatoes)
- Pepper, to taste
Put cut up potatoes in a pot large enough to have room to cover the potatoes completely with water. Add enough cool water to the pot to cover the potatoes. Starting off with cool water will help the potatoes to cook more evenly.
Boil potatoes in salted water until easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes well and return to pot.
With an electric hand mixer, break up the potatoes and then beat them on high speed until the lumps are pretty well obliterated. Toss in some softened butter and warm cream or half and half (Warm in your microwave or a separate pot; not too hot, just enough to take off the chill.) Pour it over the potatoes, sprinkle with pepper, and beat the mixture with the hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Taste, correct seasonings.
Okay, so that is basic creamed potatoes. If you want to make them fancier, here are some suggestions:
- Use sour cream and milk in place of the cream or half and half. Blend in the sour cream first until the potatoes have the right flavor, then thin them out with whatever amount of milk you need to make them the right consistency.
- Add in “roasted garlic”. Katie taught me a quick way to bypass roasting the garlic in the oven. Chop the garlic cloves, sauté them in a little olive oil until they are light golden. DO NOT brown too much or else they will be bitter. Put them in with the potatoes after you have mashed or broken up the potatoes.
- Grate your favorite cheese into the potatoes and blend with the hand mixer. I have used freshly grated parmesan, sharp cheddar, and Monterrey jack.
- Chop some chives, blend into potatoes, then sprinkle a few more chopped chives on top to make a pretty creamed potato presentation.
- Crisp fried bacon, chopped. Shoot, why not!?