There are likely more recipes for mashed potatoes than there are people on this planet, and yet they all seem to ignore the ONE ingredient that will make them perfect. Okay, there’s more than one, but one of them is really important.
It’s the same ingredient that no one thinks about using for scrambled eggs. You have the same conundrum with both the eggs and the potatoes: you want them creamy but not gooey, fluffy but not watery. And yet what ingredients do people keep on insisting on using? Heavy cream which will make both too heavy, or regular milk which will make both too watery. Uh, hello!! There’s another choice!
Option number three… the humble can of evaporated milk (not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk). I learned this trick from my parents for both scrambled eggs as well as mashed potatoes. The evaporated milk lends the right amount of creaminess without being heavy or watery. Perfect!
Choosing the right potato is also really important, not just the type of milk. Though this recipe could be made with any type of potato, if you’re looking for the traditional texture most commonly associated with mashed potatoes, you’ll want to start with Russet potatoes. Their cell structure and moisture content is key to the end result. I still use other potatoes on occasion for a change in color and flavor, so feel free to do so as well!
Simply Perfect Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- 4 lbs. Russet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into chunks
- 8 Tbsp. (or 1/2 cup) salted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tsp. mixed herb seasoning, I use McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning, or an equal blend or oregano, basil, thyme, and sage
- 1/2 – 1 cup evaporated milk, heated until hot but not boiling (this keeps your potatoes from getting cooled)
- salt & pepper to taste
Put the potato chunks into a large pot and add cold water until all the potato is covered. Bring to a boil on the stove and adjust the heat as needed to keep the water boiling but with out it bubbling over. Boil until the potato is able to be easily pierced with a fork and break apart, but don’t cook too long or they will turn to mush. About 15-20 minutes is usually enough time.
Drain the potatoes through a fine mesh sieve or colander (the drained water is perfect for the compost or garden after it cools). Return the potatoes to the pot and add the butter. Mash the butter in a little with a potato masher, then sprinkle the seasonings in. Add the milk a little at a time while mashing in between, using the amount to your preference (I prefer between 3/4 and 1 cup). Adjust the seasonings as desired, but keep in mind you don’t want to over mash potatoes as they can develop an almost glue like texture.
After all the ingredients have been completely mixed together, cover the pot and allow to sit for a few minutes for the flavors to blend. These potatoes can be made in advance and stored in the freezer or refrigerator, which is good to know for big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas! Just heat them up in a covered dish in the oven, or in the microwave. Enjoy!