Look. I know you know how to make mashed potatoes. It’s easy, right? But everyone has a method they swear by, be it whipping, mashing, ricing etc. I’m going to tell you my way, because it’s the best way to make mashed potatoes and I feel like you deserve to know.
Sometimes I use the lovely thin skinned yellow waxy varieties for my mashed potatoes. The best thing about these is that don’t need to be peeled so they are great for weeknight mashed potatoes, or anytime you are feeling lazy (which for me is pretty much all the time). But for holiday meals, I only use russet.
Russet potatoes, when cooked properly, are unmatched in their fluffiness and they have a wholesome, earthy flavor. Sure, it’s a pain in the neck to peel potatoes for a crowd, but that’s what teenagers are for. (Just make sure to give them plenty of time for this task because apparently peeling requires a dexterity that is not translatable to texting thumbs and video games…but I digress.) Anyway, remind your little helpers to wash the potatoes well before peeling, then place those freshly peeled potatoes right into a large pot of cold water to make sure they don’t start to oxidize. (Don’t forget to teach a little science lesson here!)
After the potatoes are peeled, cube them and place them back into the large pot of water and swish it around a little. Pour out all the water and repeat. This washes off the excess starch and eliminates the chance that they will become gummy. Then refill the pot with cold water and keep it on the stove until you are ready to cook it. I do this step in the morning to get it out of the way!
Mashed potatoes are naturally a decadent food, but I’ve found that using low-fat buttermilk in place of heavy cream (or creme fraiche or sour cream) provides equally creamy results with a little bit of tang to balance out the richness. Of course I still add plenty of butter so we can’t exactly call it a health food. But it is a slightly lighter way to make them. Topped with fried sage leaves, shallots and garlic, these mashed potatoes have leveled up and are totally holiday-worthy!
- 4 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 - 1½ cups buttermilk
- 8 tablespoons butter, divided
- ¼ cup of vegetable oil
- 1 large shallot, cut into thin rings
- 5 sage leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- Peel and cube the potatoes and place in a large pot of cold water. Swirl the pan a bit to encourage the potato cubes to give up their starch, and drain. Repeat the process.
- Fill the pot with cold water again and add a large pinch of salt. Set aside until ready to cook.
- Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 15-18 minutes, depending on the size of your chunks.
- While the potatoes are simmering, make the fried shallots. Place oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the shallots and fry, turning often until golden brown. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Pour off any remaining oil and wipe down the skillet with a paper towel.
- Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and heat over medium high heat. When melted and simmering, add the sage leaves and fry until crisp - just a minute or two per side. Remove from pan. Add the sliced garlic and fry until golden brown. Pour the butter and garlic into a small bowl and set aside.
- When the potatoes are cooked, drain thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the buttermilk and the remaining butter and mash well. If it still looks too thick, add more buttermilk until you get the consistency you want.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn the potatoes into a bowl. Drizzle with the garlic/brown butter and top with the shallots and sage. Serve immediately.