How To Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes for Thanksgiving (and for your braces!)
5 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, well-scrubbed
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
Finely chopped fresh chives (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
This technique calls for a potato masher for chunkier potatoes.
Choosing the potatoes
Choosing the proper potatoes is critical. There are basically three types of potatoes: very starchy like Russets, very waxy like Red Bliss, and somewhere in the middle like Yukon Golds. First rule: Don't use the waxy, red potatoes for your mash. They just won't break down enough (read: lumps), nor do they absorb the dairy very well. Stick with Russets and Yukon Golds. Of the two, the Russet will give you the creamiest mash, but many people prefer the flavor and golden color of Yukon Golds. It's a trade-off and totally up to you.
1. Boil the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover then by about 1 inch. Stir in 2 tablespoons of salt. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and reduce the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. Test for doneness at 30 minutes. A sharp knife should easily go through the potato. Larger potatoes may take longer, up to 45 or 50 minutes total.
2. Heat the butter and add salt. About 20 minutes into the potato cooking time, melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Keep warm.
3. Drain the potatoes. When the potatoes are ready, drain them in a colander. Turn off the heat on the butter.
4. Mash the potatoes and add the dairy. Add the hot butter to the potatoes, gently stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate.
5. Taste, garnish, and serve. Taste your potatoes and add more salt as needed. This is also a good time to add pepper if using. Spoon into your serving dish and top with optional garnishes, such as a pat of butter or some chopped chives.
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