As the holidays roll around, there’s always one staple item that is on the menu: mashed potatoes.
The key for having the smoothest and most velvety mashed potatoes is all in the preparation. Add the butter first. Why? The butter coats the molecules of the potatoes thus separating them. Adding the cream first would make the starch in the potatoes bind together, giving you one hard clump of potato instead of the fluffy goodness that mashed potatoes are meant to be.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds russet potatoes (~4 medium), peeled, quartered, and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup half-and-half, hot
roasted garlic (optional)
salt & pepper
chopped fresh herbs (chives, rosemary, or thyme)
1. Boil Potatoes. Cover the potatoes in water, bring to a boil and reduce to a summer + cook until the potatoes are tender and you can easily stick a fork to the center of the potato, about 20-25 minutes after water is boiled.
2. Toast/Roast Garlic (optional). As your potatoes are boiling, roast or toast your garlic. Toast by placing small individual skin-on garlic cloves on a small skillet, over the lowest heat possible. Toast until the cloves are spotty dark brown and slightly softened, about 20-25 minutes. Avoid toasting larger cloves as it won’t soften during the toasting process. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes to have it soften more. Alternatively, while other foods are in the oven, cut off the top of a head of garlic, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, wrap in foil and roast in a 350°F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Peel and mince garlic.
3. Drain and Mash Potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, tossing to remove excess water (don’t want watery mashed potatoes!). Wipe the pot dry and put potatoes back into the pot and mash to a consistency of your choice.
4. Always Add Butter First. If you decided to use garlic, add that into your melted butter mixture. Use a flexible rubber spatula to fold in the melted butter until incorporated throughout. Make sure your potatoes are coated with butter.
5. Add Cream and Garnish. Add 3/4 cups of half-and-half. Add the remaining 1/4 cup as needed to adjust the consistency. Season with salt & pepper (if using salted butter, watch the salt!) and top with chopped fresh herbs.