Who would have thought that common old mashed potatoes could become a blog post?
Mashed potatoes are worthy of one.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like/love/enjoy mashed potatoes, do you?
The basic or traditional mashed potato is simple, take freshly boiled potatoes while hot, add a splash of milk, a dollop of butter and a healthy pinch of white pepper; mash.
The secret with mashed potatoes is to boil at a medium heat and not to over boil them to avoid them becoming gluey as a result of the break down of the natural starch. Another hint, do not use a food processor to ‘mash’ your potatoes, as this breaks down the starch mechanically with the same gluey result.
Served with roast meat and lashings of gravy, or simply a dollop of butter on top to melt and drip enticingly over the serving. You can season additionally with salt and pepper, sprinkle freshly chop parsley on top or grate a cheese of your choice over them.
But what you put on mashed potatoes is not the end of the story
There are many things that you can put in them to create variety, cheeses, herbs, chopped or grated onion, garlic, chives, spring onion, fresh cream, mashed white vegetables like cauliflower, parsnips or turnips (great way to get veges into the kids), you can replace the milk with stock or mash in a packet of Maggi soup, if you want to add colour, then use a tomato soup mix (and then you can disguise carrots too for the kids benefit). You can stir in shredded raw cabbage or raw onion rings just before serving to add a crunch.
So many variations on a theme can be made. Potatoes Royale is a favourite, where you mash in raw egg.
Brazilians like mashed potatoes. Called batata puree, they are generally runnier than the British tradition as the name suggests. They heat the milk before mashing.
The French have aligot which is a melted cheese and mashed potato dish.
Of course, we can’t exclude the Irish with their champ where spring onions (scallions) are added, or colcannon which uses cabbage or kale.
In Saharan Africa, they prefer the gluey fufu, also known by many other regional names.
The Jews have Kufte de Prassa (grilled potato patties with leeks and mincemeat, ground beef) for Passover, or a simple vegetarian version with more leaks.
Carnation mashed potatoes uses evaporated milk.
The ideas are endless; sautéed mushrooms added to the middle with the potato folded over the top. Similarly you can use a cube of mozzarella cheese and make a mashed potato ball.
Minted mashed potatoes give a fresh taste accompanying roast lamb.
Savoury mashed potatoes; meats like pre-cooked bacon can also be a treat.
Cheese Puff mashed potatoes; using parmesan cheese and sour cream. You need a recipe, try the Kitchen Project.
Of course, all the above can be done with sweet potatoes too.
Now you don’t necessarily have to put something in mashed potatoes, you can use them in other forms as well, the traditional shepherd’s or cottage pies uses mashed potatoes for the topping.
Mashed potatoes can be piped on to a baking tray and cooked off in the oven to add a crunchy surface. They can also be used in a quiche, and casseroles, as a topping for meatloaf cupcakes (recipe here) or just make potato cupcakes and cook off in the oven.
Brown Butter mashed potatoes, where you cook off the butter until brown before mashing then brush with the same butter before cooking off in the oven as cupcakes or piped onto an oven tray.
Wacky mashed potatoes, spoon or pipe your version into icecream cones. Idea from: Potato.ie
Then there are all the forms of gnocchi (or potato dumplings), where flour is mashed with the potatoes and then recooked in boiling water. More about gnocchi on The Purple Foodie.
Potato dumplings can be cooked off in boiling water as a traditional dumpling , they also be fried off in the deep fry.
Left over mashed potatoes can be made into potato pancakes and waffles with a dollop of sour cream on top sprinkled with chopped chives.
Used in cakes and breads; Both the Brazilians and the Irish have fantastic potato breads.
The ideas are endless, here I have barely scratched the surface.
Like most cooking, there is no real recipe and the varieties are only limited by your imagination.
Whatever you do, please do not use Instant Mashed Potatoes, quite frankly they are an abomination in the sight of that great chef in the sky and should be illegal.
- dollop = a vague measurement used by chefs
- squirt = unspecified measurement recognised by chefs as sufficient
- healthy squirt = more than normal, a synonyms generous squirt/pinch, etc.
- lashings = a lot of, a synonym oodles