Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mashed potatoes --- the Old Fashioned Way

Horrified, I stood rooted to the floor in the grocery store pointing at a large plastic tub of "Homestyle Mashed Potatoes".  The other shoppers made a wide detour around, carefully not making eye contact.  My husband came along and quietly moved me away murmuring soothing words.  The picture of the  fluffy mounds of white potatoes drenched in butter were just too perfect. The ingredients list on the tub was long and full of multiple syllable words.  The best used by date was sometime into the next year.

Not right!  Just not right.  In plain mashed potatoes there should be just potatoes and maybe milk or cream.  Then you take that simple foundation and doll it up.  Like adding pesto!

Here is the companion to my blog on Pesto and the promised recipe for Pesto Mashed Potatoes!

People will opine on all the different varieties of potatoes and their uses.  In my opinion, they all mash up yummy.

The best thing to do is to buy them from a local farmer or grow them yourself.  If you've never had garden-grown mashed potatoes, you will be astonished at the difference.

Humble and sort of warty red potatoes

For the two of us plus some left overs for the next day, I used about 7 of these.  I'd say they were about the size of a lemon.

Peel or don't peel or sort of peel.  It's up to you.  Me, I sort of peel.  I like some peel but also like a mouthful of silky potatoes.  I peel a bit more than half the peel off and in strips so the chunks of peel are small.  In any case, scrub the peels with a brush and rinse well.  (Fresh potatoes should not have any sprouts - don't eat the sprouts!  They are not yummy or healthy.)


Once you have the potatoes peeled to your specifications, they should be chopped into small pieces that are roughly 1" on a side.  Why?  I am glad you asked.  The smaller pieces will cook faster than larger pieces.  But if they are too small, you'll end up with mush or soup depending on how much water is in the pot.  

Cooked, drained, and ready to mash!
Simmered so they aren't mushy or broken.

Cover the cut potatoes with cold water to about 1" above the surface of the potatoes.  Put on the stove and bring to a simmer, don't boil.  Boiling makes the potatoes break apart and become yucky mushy.  At about 30 - 45 minutes, stick a fork into one of the larger pieces.  If the fork pushes into the piece easily, it's done.  If it doesn't, cook some more.

Drain the water off.  I just use the lid of the pan and tilt it over the sink.  Watch out for the steam, there will be a lot of it.  If you'd like, the potato water can be used for soups, bread, or to water your garden.

Mashing by hand! 

Take up your potato masher and have a bash!  I like some chunks so I don't mash much.  If you like, you can add some milk or cream to make the texture smoother.  Or try adding some chicken broth to boost the flavor.

Here is the recipe for Pesto Potatoes I promised!


Mash your potatoes.  Add a tablespoon or two of fresh pesto and about 1/2 cup of sour cream and stir in.  Add more sour cream if you'd like.  What could go wrong?  Salt and pepper to taste.

Sour cream and pesto - so good

If you'd like, swirl the sour cream and pesto in ribbons through the potatoes, it is pretty and gives some fun flavor variations.

Fun slightly green Pesto Potatoes!

The potatoes end up with a slightly green hue.  They don't keep all that well, so make sure to finish them up by the next day.  Feel free to put another dollop on top if you want a stronger pesto flavor.  It's all about you!

My stomach is growling.  

Dinner!  Pork chop braised in soy and vinegar, green beans, and Pesto Potatoes.  Heaven on earth.

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