Monday, November 23, 2009

Mashed Potatoes; Easy And Delicious Side Dish For Generations

By Ben Cook

Almost every household in nearly every country knows the delights of mashed potatoes. They may be called something different but they are still that creamy, luscious mounds of goodness that is very popular during Thanksgiving or any other time of the year. In the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind mashed potatoes were a major part of the plot and they are definitely a major part of dinner. The definition of mashed potatoes is creamy, buttery and fluffy potatoes but in some places they are lumpy and still very good.

Mashed potatoes can be simple with just a bit of butter, milk, salt and pepper added or they can be a little more complicated with garlic, green onions, or cheese added. Some recipes get very complicated adding a variety of other vegetables, meat product like bacon, and gourmet cheese and then they are baked again making the twice baked potato that is actually mashed potatoes heated up twice.

There are even instant mashed potatoes, although not nearly as tasty as real ones. They haven't been around all that long either being patented in'62 by Canadian scientist Edward Asselbergs. He invented the process of dehydrating mashed potatoes that is used today even though some earlier methods were patented in'12 and'54. Today we can even go to the grocery store and purchase tubs of real potatoes that have been already mashed for us and all we have to do is heat them up in the microwave.

A method of making mashed potatoes is to just boil them and mash it with a fork adding only butter. People that like this method enjoy the true flavor of the potato and say that processing it in a mixer damages the potato making it too sticky and starchy. Lots of people like that sticky and starchy texture and this is the way they make them. Some people mash with a wire masher first and then add things to the potatoes or they put them in an electric mixer. An old way to make them is to use an old fashion ricer which is a metal basket with holes in it with a handle and blade. You put the potatoes in the basket and turn the handle which moves the blade squishing the potatoes through the small holes in the basket. The bi product can be whipped up easily making a very smooth mashed potato.

A simple mashed potato recipe uses russet potatoes but other good potatoes to use for mashed are Idaho and Yukon Gold. The ingredients needed to make Simple Mashed Potatoes are:Two and one half pounds potatoes, peeled and cut in chunksOne fourth cup milk, One fourth cup butter, One half teaspoon salt, One half teaspoon black pepper. Instructions are as follows: Place potato chunks in 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it boils reduce heat to medium low and cover the pot. Let it simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until poked with a fork the potatoes feel soft. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl and mash with a wire masher or place in a mixer bowl and whip them for a few minutes. Add milk, butter, salt and pepper and mix until potatoes become smooth and creamy. This will serve about six people.

Another variation is to make mashed potatoes with cheese and sour cream. Peel and cut into chunks 8 to 10 potatoes and place them in enough water to cover in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and boil about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and put in a mixer bowl. Whip for a few minutes then add 8 ounces cream cheese, one half of a 16 ounce carton of sour cream, and six tablespoons butter. Combine well than add one fourth teaspoon garlic salt and one fourth teaspoon pepper. Mix in well. You have the option of adding one half cup shredded Cheddar while whipping or placing it on top and letting it melt.

Always employ and down motion when using a wire masher instead of a side to side so that the cells of the potato do not release all the starch. Never use cold butter on mashed potatoes; instead it should be softened at room temperature. You can warm your milk before adding but never let it boil. This will ensure your potatoes are warm when you serve them. Use chicken stock instead of milk to give a different flavor but make sure to taste before adding any salt. The stock has salt in it already and you may make them too salty.

Everyone will enjoy your mashed potatoes along with dinner just as they have for many years before. Add bacon, green onions or chives and many different things to make them different every time you serve them. You can place butter or sour cream on top, or try cheese and the every popular gravy. There will never be left overs of mashed potatoes after dinner

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