Mashed Potatoes

All it takes is a fork. And you can mash many other veggies this way too.
TIME 30 to 45 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
2 pounds starchy or all-purpose potatoes
1 cup milk, or more as needed
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
Freshly ground black pepper

1 Scrub the potatoes and rinse them well. Put them in a large pot and add cold water to cover by about 2 inches; add a large pinch of salt.Put over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender (you’ll be able to insert a sharp, thin-bladed knife with virtually no resistance), 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.

2 Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them sit to dry out for at least 5 minutes or up to an hour, then peel them if you like. Cut the potatoes into big chunks.

3 Rinse out the pot and put it back on the burner over medium-low heat. Add the milk and butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the milk is hot and the butter is melted, 3 to 5 minutes, take the pot off the heat. Put the potatoes back in the pot and mash them with a potato masher (or put them through a ricer) until they are as lumpy or as smooth as you like. Put the pot back over medium-low heat and stir gently with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the potatoes reach the consistency you like; add more milk (2 tablespoons at a time) to make them thinner. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve hot or warm.

  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Put the peeled cloves from 2 garlic bulbs in the pot along with the potatoes in Step 1.
  • Cheesy Mashed Potatoes: In Step 3, add 1 cup grated Parmesan, cheddar, or Gruyère cheese to the pot with the milk. Blue cheese tastes good, too, but gives the potatoes a gray tint.
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes and add 1 tablespoon ground ginger to the pot along with the milk and butter in Step 3.

  • Try not to poke the potatoes too much during boiling; they’ll get waterlogged. If you’re cooking potatoes of various sizes, the smaller potatoes will become tender before the larger ones are, so pluck them from the pot as they finish cooking.
  • Fat makes mashed potatoes creamy, so if you don’t have whole milk, add a little more butter or a splash of cream. You can also use buttermilk in place of some or all of the milk; it adds a pleasantly tangy flavor.
  • Other vegetables to mash this way: carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, or winter squash. Peel and trim them before boiling.

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