I have this hunch that for most people, myself included for several years, mashed potatoes are a special occasion food. They are saved for holiday meals or when company is coming over or when we decide to make a “nice” dinner.
I get it. There are a lot of recipes out there for mashed potatoes that require a bit of dedication and perhaps quite a bit more effort than one would want to devote to a side dish for goodness sake. However, today I want to convince you to rebrand mashed potatoes as weeknight fare, capable of being made in the context of other things, requiring minimal attention and yielding maximum results.
To begin, we are not going to peel our potatoes. No one has time for that, and honestly does anyone care? You’re picky toddler might care, but they don’t eat anything to begin with, so carry on.
Then, we are going to let our mixer do the work for us. No hand mashing. No complicated food mills. Not a single small appliance with blade or grates or anything requiring effort. Mashing potatoes in the stand mixer feels like someone else is doing the work for you, and the bowl is a snap to clean, so we are winning.
Finally, we are all going to gather around and learn the secret to really spectacular, note-worthy mashed potatoes. It’s not the type of potato you use. It’s not the method you use for cooking or mashing the potatoes. It isn’t the addition of extra ingredients like cheese or sour cream or cream cheese or roasted garlic or fancy herbs (although you can certainly add any of those to your potatoes if you like). The secret to the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten is salt.
Plain and simply, if you have ever enjoyed a delicious mound of mashed potatoes, you did so thanks to the perfect amount of salt. Add all the butter and cream to potatoes you wish, but leave out the salt, and it’s all a colossal waste of time.
Salt is the key to mashed potato magic, and if you think I have a lot to say on this topic, you should listen to an entire podcast episode I recorded dedicated solely to the topic. I care deeply about salt education, and you should too if you want your mashed potatoes to be amazing.
(Salt rant over.)
Bottom line, these are the weeknight mashed potatoes that I make on a regular basis, and they are easy yet magically delicious. I hope you enjoy!
- 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes unpeeled, cut into medium-sized chunks
- Kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 cup half-and-half
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1/4 cup Kosher salt.
- Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes. Boil for 20 minutes, or until tender all the way through. The cook time will depend on the size of your potato chunks. Use a knife to cut one open, and make sure it is soft all the way through before proceeding.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, add the butter cubes and the half-and-half. Lift the cooked potatoes out of the water directly into the bowl. Add 2 teaspoons Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Slowly and carefully mix the potatoes until mashed and combined.