"potatoes can become gummy when overworked" -- that's why you use a ricer, not a mixer, it breaks down the cell walls and the starch comes out and makes it gummy.
I agree with the previous poster, a ricer is both better and easier than a mixer. I used to think mashed potatoes were a chore, now I make them all the time.
1. Microwave potatoes until soft.
2. Add milk/cream, butter, salt and pepper to a large bowl, microwave until hot.
3. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks.
4. Rice potatoes into the bowl, stir well.
Done in 20 minutes, and you only have to clean one bowl and the ricer.
another good universal tool is a food mill
I never'd diced me taters. Gets too watery like. Usually boil them whole or halved, all flavor stays happy and yummy.
It's a tough subject to take on. EVERYONE you talk to will have an individual take on how they like the taters done. I personally could take skins or no, but my family hung me high. So, I leave the skins on for flavor and texture. Straus butter and heavy cream goes in with salt. Textury love. Top with bacon I've smoked over beef roasts, crumbled.
This is really strange and I'm not comfortable with entering a dumb comment for a blog in a 'forum'. It's so far outside the box I don't know where I am. I wrote up my Comment, but it wouldn't take. Said there was someone that had my account already. Eh? I am me. I had to select & copy my Comment, then go back and Login, then I was able to paste my Comment in.
It reminds me of interfacing with my boss, a college degreed scientist and chemist. A real pain in the ass. He can take sharpening a pencil and make it an all day affair. He figures the wheel needed reinventing. At least now it has only 9 sides.
I have to admit that it is a little odd. It would probably be less confusing if I didn't allow non-registered users to comment at all. Otherwise, it's just like logging into Blogger before you post, except you have to log into Cooking For Engineers to post (as yourself).
I made a modification so now when you login, it should keep you on the same page where you hit reply... hopefully it won't be too weird.
OK, I'm clutching at straws here but I saw a Science of Cooking (I think) on Discovery Channel (I think) that mentioned a way to preserve the starch of boiled potatoes so that when mashed, it doesn't taste like wallpaper paste (their words). Only problem, I can't remember the steps, either immerse the potatoes in cold water before, or after boiling, and whether it was a fast or slow boil (I can no longer think). Agggh!
Can anybody help?
I like to caramelize finely minced onion and garlic and add to the potatoes at the last minute.
I think it's a fast boil and throwing the potatoes into a bowl of iced water to shock them, which stops the cooking. I don't know for sure, but this sounds most logical based on what I know about French cooking (which is experimental food science based on hundreds of years of culinary tradition).
Since garlic doesn't really like the Maillard reactions, I've found it easier and more convenient to roast the garlic in the oven (350° F for at least 20 minutes) with a little olive oil (not extra virgin). And I've found that the taste is cleaner and better if you remove the skin before roasting and crush them with the knife prior to roasting.
And I've found that I like the texture of the potatoes cut into smaller pieces (around 1/2 inch) and boiled in heavily salted water. I think of it like cooking pasta. Large volume of brine. Small volume of potatoes.
A small white onion pureed in the food processor adds a nice touch, too, in my opinion.
Ok, found the answer (Google to the rescue - and it was BBC not DC). Here's the link:
We like to gently cook the peeled garlic in olive oil, till it is nice and soft, and then put both the garlic and oil through the ricer with the potatoes. You can save some of the water used to boil the potatoes to loosen them up, if they are too stiff. Very different from using cream/butter. Not better - just different.
If you have a lot of garlic available (i.e., just came back from Costco), then it is useful to peel and "poach" a lot of garlic at one time, and keep the extra in the oil, in the fridge, till you have some other use for it. Use a small pot, and don't heat the oil too hot - you don't want to brown the garlic, just soften it up.
How much oil do you use? Does the oil cover the garlic or does the garlic simply sit on top of the oil?
You want to cover the garlic with the oil. That is why I suggest a small pot - about 1 qt. If you have a LOT of garlic, you can have several layers think, and enough oil to cover well. My wife is in charge of this activity, and has a nice touch to not overcook it. We usually make about 8-10 oz of oil and 1-2 nice firm heads of garlic. We just did a Costco run this past week, and we can't use everything in the bag that they seel, so this weekend we will cook some up. I will observe her technique closely, and report details.
The garlic is good for other uses, such as a spread on bread, in other sauces, and with veggies - we are about to start to get fresh beans out of the garden, and after briefly steaming them, we quickly saute them in the garlic oil and a smashed close or two of the softened garlic. The oil can also be used on salads.
That sounds so good... I'm give it a try next time we get garlic (Costco).
For a different taste, try a little less cream and instead of boiling the potatoes, bake them. After baking them until done, remove the skin and use like you had boiled them. Baking them gives a unique flavor.
I dearly love garlic, but isn't there a potential problem of botulism when storing garlic in oil?
Does briefly cooking the garlic lessen/eliminate that concern? Or should the garlic in oil be used within a few days, weeks or ?
Drooling at the very thought. Inspired how-to format, not to mention the glorious step-by-step photo sequence.
You're so right about the unsung glories of superb "side" dishes. Last Easter, my "Sweet Potato aux Peeps" was the pride of the table.
A holiday tradition is hatched
I did a "chef for a day" stint at one of the best spots in town recently. They make their mashed potatoes using sour cream instead of milk/cream and they are fantastic. I've tried their recipe myself with great results.
Also, try adding a couple of table spoons of olive oil - helps with the texture.
That's a whole lot of garlic and a whole lot of dirty dishes. I use the lazy way and just cook the potatoes until well done, and then stir them in the pan to mash. Always start the potatoes first when making a meal. They will stay hot for a long time & even finish cooking after turning the heat off. I always peel the garlic before cooking - seems unusual to me to not do so.
I like a previous poster I like to use sour cream instead of butter and cream cheese instead of heavy cream. It gives the potatos a nice zip.
omg......... i could have made those potatoes 3 times in the time it took to read all the different ways to make them, and then try to comment here.
Tried to register, but gave up............ haha now i see why this blog is called cooking for "engineers"......... very funny!!
Mince garlic and add to hot melted butter , i prefer my garlic just slightly cooked.
Generally use milk and plenty of butter rather than cream and to get very fluffy mashed potatoes you mash with a normal masher then wisk to beat in air.
[i:c0ac96e492]I dearly love garlic, but isn't there a potential problem of botulism when storing garlic in oil?
Does briefly cooking the garlic lessen/eliminate that concern? Or should the garlic in oil be used within a few days, weeks or ?[/i:c0ac96e492]
aileen, botulism and other nasties don't grow in oil-- if there is enough oil in the jar to cover the garlic completely and the jar is well-capped, the result is preserved garlic and an infused oil. you can reheat / recook if it makes you feel better (feeling better is always good!), but it's not necessary.
Actually, from what I've read that's not quite true. The bacteria that produces botulism toxin (Clostridium botulinum) grows best in a low oxygen or anaerobic (zero oxygen) environment. Garlic infused oils are a potential source of botulism if the garlic was not cooked enough (killing the bacteria) or the oil does not contain sufficient acid to inhibit the growth of the bacteria. For this reason, garlic infused oils should be refrigerated for safety unless the manufacturer really knew what they were doing.
Fortunately, heat does destroy the botulism toxin, so bring the food above boiling (212°F) for at least ten minutes to be safe.
Thanks, Michael--you are correct that Clostridium is an anaerobic organism, so just putting raw garlic in oil has that potential danger, from what I've read. Skin_Colorz_PDT_09
I thought cooking might mitigate that possibility, but wasn't sure if the earlier post of briefly cooking the garlic was enough of a safety measure.
Probably the best case scenario is to cook the garlic enough to kill possible "bugs" before storing the garlic-oil mixture in the fridge and using as soon as possible. :)
I am not sure if Clostridium botulinum would grow in the oil mixture, it is an anaerobe for sure but not all bacteria like hydrocarbons (some think they are very yummy). What makes it a nasty bug is the fact that it is a spore former and spores are very hardy little buggers that are very hard to kill (researchers and hospitals pressure cook everything to get rid of them). If the mixture was contaminated with C. botulinum then even if it was not in a vegetative (growing) state the spores would certainly be able to withstand that environment. A healthy adult that has not been any a heavy antibiotics regimen does not really have to worry about ingesting said spores but someone who does not have their gut full of bacteria (such as someone on antibiotics or infants under the age of about 1) does. The toxin is released by C. botulinum when it is coming out of its spore (when conditions favor its growth), and thankfully is a heat labile toxin as Michael pointed out, my pathogenesis text suggests boiling for 10-15 minutes (it is referring to home canned food in which contamination and growth can be a real problem). Not being the expert on Clostridia I would have to go with better safe than sorry myself and heat the mixture if you are worried about it (unless you are trying to make botox). On a related note C. botulinum spores can be found in honey which is why people are told not to feed it to infants.
Sorry if this was too much info, especially since I could not give a definitive answer to the question.
Thank you, Karen, for the more detailed info on Clostridium.
I really liked the idea of rxc's to make an oil/garlic concoction when faced with a Costco load o' garlic, so your suggestion gives me more confidence to try it! :)
And I am another person who puts in a little sour cream when making mashed potatoes...those poor potatoes are so healthy until we add all the goodies (butter, salt, sour cream...) ;)
I think I make the best mashed potatoes around, and just about everyone who has tried them agrees. I have developed my technique ('cause it's not really a recipe) by watching them do it on the food channel and by my own personal trial and error.
My way is quite similar to the recipe featured here. I highly suggest rinsing your cubed potatoes in cold water through a colander prior to cooking. This washes off extra starch and brings you delightfully fluffy results later.
After you cook the taters, drain them well. This is important.
Heat your milk (or cream, half and half, whatever) and completely melt butter before adding to the cooked potatoes. Two reasons (that I can think of) support this: first, to avoid overmixing by making the hot potatoes melt your butter for you; and, second, the potatoes absorb better and more quickly the hot liquids (because they are hot, I guess).
Now, many of you scoffed at the thought of using a mixer to mash the cooked potatoes. I wouldn't do it any other way, as long as I can use my flat paddle attachment (never use the whip or wisk attachment or even the beaters of the hand-held mixers).
I normally use low-fat milk and smart-balance type of margarine and a small amount of real butter. But for a holiday or other special occation, for the liquid i will use a equal parts of helf-and-half and real cream and, of course, all real butter. I cannot tell you the amounts, because I just eyeball it.
Apologies for the doom and gloom tone of my first couple of posts here, but I'm currently sitting through a weekly 4 hour lecture course on Restaraunt Safety and Sanitation. I figure that's got me a bit jumpy regarding what I put in my mouth.
From the National Restaraunt Foundation ServSafe textbook regarding major foodborne illnesses (botulism) and food involved in outbreaks:
"...untreated garlic and oil mixtures..."
Later when discussing botulism:
"Botulism...is so dangerous that people have died from just tasting and spitting out contaminated food."
Based on that information , I have started throwing away my homemade garlic infused oil after 2 days if I haven't used it all.
On a happier note, start your potatoes in cold water and bring them to a boil with the water. I have misplaced my notes on the exact reasoning for this, but it has to do with bringing the starch in the potatoes up to temp gradually rather than over-cooking the starch on the outer edges of your pieces while waiting for the potatoes to become tender in the middle. It takes a lot longer with this method, but they come out very creamy.
For a bit of extra kick, try substituting buttermilk for some or all of the cream.
As long as you boil the garlic/oil stuff it should be fine. If it is contaminated and growing then I would not want to ingest it uncooked at any time, I hear that 1mg of botulinum toxin can kill 1,000,000 guinea pigs (think it was guinea pigs, if not then probably hampsters, and I have no idea who decided to test this). Point being that the lethal dose of the toxin is very low, which is one reason I cannot understand why someone would pay to have it injected into their skin for cosmetic reasons. I had one person tell me that botox is not a toxin, we argued and she never did come around, can't remember her major, I just hope she is not premed... Course if she takes micro then she'll get straightened out, everyone should take micro, not just a sanitation/food safety course since those tend to breed fear and paranoia (no offense, I've experienced it myself before taking a real micro course). When will people learn that nonpathogenic microbes are our friends and that overuse and misuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial products is going to lead to (and in some cases has already led to) uncurable disesases...
In reference to cooking by boiling my grandma always said that if it comes from the "cold" earth, like potatoes, you start it in cold water. If it comes from the "hot" air, above ground, you start it in boiling water. Also, I find that boiling the potatoes whole results in a better product than peeling the potato first. It seems to preserve the structure of the starch plus it is easier to peel the potato after boiling if you don't like the skins.
So now I am in food microbiology and botulism is a popular topic, especially since there has been a recent outbreak associated with carrot juice of all things. Turns out that several outbreaks have been associated with the garlic in oil mix. My professor said the main problem is that the mixture is often set out on the counter/table for its storage, the oil excludes oxygen and so the botulism spores germinate and grow. If this mixture was cooled and kept in the fridge then this would not be a problem because only one kind of botulism grows at refridgeration temperatures and it is pretty much only associated with seafood (which is why it is a bad idea and illegal for stores to have fresh seafood vacuum packed unless it is frozen). So boil it to get rid of the growing cells and the toxin and keep it cold and this stuff should be rather safe and likely keep for a long time :)
The reason one should always!!!.. start their potatoes in cold water... Is for the simple reason of evenly cooked potatoes. If you plce the potatoes in cold water , then turn up the heat, the whole mass of the potato will heat up evenly and cook evenly. But if you would put your potatoes into boiling water the outside of the potatoes will cook faster then the cold interior of the potatos, resulting in undercooked insides and mushy overcooked outsides usually resulting in mirky startchy water. A loss in nutrients and potato.
i like to season potatos after to make sure not to much salt is in the boiling water. but could add herbs, bay leaf, whatever.
I usually don't cover the pot either, just have enough water to cover the potatoes, find it nice to drain the potatoes and let steam excess moisture ( the moisture is just water and you want to replace it with good stuff like cream, garlic, butter, etc.)
i was told it is better to mix in your cream and seasoning first till just combined.. then finish with the butter after.. as the potatoes will absorb lots of the cream... and the butter isn;t lost.. it is accented better i the dish if added at the end.
Under no circumstances should you try to preserve garlic in olive oil. Clostridium botulinum is one bacteria that just doesn't give a darn how much you think you know about cooking and food safety.
It grows in soil, so garlic is especially problematic.
The worst part is the way it kills you. The toxin paralyzes your muscles and you slowly suffocate.
Hey Mike --- I was reading up on mashed potatoes in the NYT and saw that you were interviewed. Way to go!!! I do have a theory on why mashed potatoes become tacky when over-worked. Could it be the protein in them potatoes? Sort of like gluten in flour during kneading. Ground meats do this, too... which explains the firm textures of hotdogs and such.
Russets are tough to work with in texture. I prefer to use red potatoes--just a little TLC with a hand mixer produces creamy without the gumminess. Leaving in their skins adds a little texture, which I love. They're probably more trouble than it's worth to actually peel since the skins are thin and the potatoes tend to be small.
I haven't tried pre-roasting the garlic (sounds delicious though!), but boil peeled, crushed (slightly) clove with my potatoes and a little bit of chicken broth and use a little of that liquid along with sour cream and plenty of butter to mash with them.
Amazing, isn't it, how many different tricks and variations there are for an old standard like mashed potatoes?
Thanks for your fantastic site!
Try a Cuisinart Mixer
for fluffier mashed potatoes. I personally love mashed potatoes that are all airy creamy and fluffy. Mmmmm
I'm interested in using this recipe at an upcoming pot luck, and want to feed 20-24 people.
Do I just triple all of the ingredients?
Do the cooking times need to be extended?
>>triple the recipe
essentially yes - I would advise:
do not add all your liquids in one batch - the amount of moisture remaining on the (cooked) potatoes prior to mashing affects how much liquid/cream you need for the right consistency.
cooking time: going by the only the clock is not recommended. be sure the chunks of potato are reasonably the same size (even cooking) and go for "fork tender" - use something like a caving fork or an i ce pick, not a dinner fork - stick a potato chunk, lift it vertically out of the water, if it falls back into the pot, potatoes are ready. check several "spots" around the pot...
with that volume, I'd be temped to drain the pot, spread the chunks out on a big sheet to allow the excess moisture to evaporate.
and don't forget to taste as you're going along - the "strength" of your garlic and salt amounts in particular.
As well as using sour cream instead of heavy cream as has already been suggested, I add grated Parmesan as well. gives a very good flavor. Sorry I don't have any measurements, I go by feel and taste.
Sorry, just found this site so I assume your potluck is over already, but for future reference I will post this. We have done this kind of recipe for very large groups, I use a thin bladed pointed knife to test how done the potatoes are. When they are done we drain them in a large colander and mash them by hand in the pots we cooked them in, this makes potatoes with more lumps and texture. They could be whipped in a mixer or put through a ricer if you want creamer potatoes. We place them in warming trays and store them in a Cambro or warmer to keep them hot until served.
For the kind of thing you are talking about, a 12 quart pot would work well. Wrap some beach towels around the pot to keep it hot.
I've been cooking for 50+ years. I've used hand-mashers, ricers, and mixers. You can make excellent mashed potatoes with any of these tools. The problem arises when you overcook the potatoes, which happens easily when you cut the raw potatoes into "too small" chunks, then overcook them. Only add enough water to cover. NO more. I like to add salt to the pot before cooking (less salt is necessary this way). Excessive water in the potatoes from too much cooking adds to the mess. It's very important to drain the potatoes when cooked, then place pot back on stove for a few seconds to dry bottom of pot. (I always mash the in the cooking pot to retain heat.) Now, mash until all potatoes are smashed, more if you like really smooth potatoes. Then, slowly begin adding warm milk or cream and butter while mixing. It's not difficult, really. Season to taste.