6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into small pieces
1 cupbuttermilk, at room temperature
Makes:10 to 12 servings
You know why mashed potatoes in good restaurants taste better than yours? Copious amounts of butter and cream are a start, but a special technique is also used. This is the way I learned to make mashed potatoes in every restaurant I ever worked in. The rules: Don’t cut the potatoes too small (they’ll absorb too much water); start with cold water and salt the heck out of it; let the potatoes “steam dry” after you drain them; for the best texture, use a food mill; and don’t overmix the potatoes (they’ll get gluey!). Enjoy.
What to buy: Russet potatoes work best for mashers, but Yukon Golds are great, too.
Buttermilk gives these potatoes a nice tang that’s great with our Bourbon-Cream Gravy. Be sure to keep the buttermilk at room temperature and add it at the end. Heating it causes it to separate.
Special equipment: We liked the way this food mill gave our mashed potatoes a fine, smooth texture, but a ricer or even a regular potato masher works well, too.
1Peel and halve potatoes lengthwise. Cut each half into quarters. Place cut potatoes immediately into a large pot filled with cold water to prevent oxidation. Add more cold water to cover potatoes by at least 4 inches. Season water well with salt (it should taste like salt water).
2Bring potatoes to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are completely tender and just beginning to fall apart, about 20 minutes.
3Drain potatoes in a large colander and let them sit, undisturbed, to steam dry for about 5 minutes. (Steam drying allows much of the excess moisture to evaporate from the potatoes, so you can add more cream and butter later!) Taste the potatoes to see how salty they are.
4Meanwhile, heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture is hot and butter is melted; do not boil. Remove from heat and season with freshly ground black or white pepper, and, if necessary, salt.
5Pass cooked potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer into a large pot. Pour hot cream-and-butter mixture into potatoes and fold in using a large rubber spatula. Fold in room-temperature buttermilk, being careful not to overwork potatoes.
6Taste potatoes, and, if necessary, adjust seasoning.