Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Greatest Mashed Potatoes in the Universe

Let me break it down for you: my mashed potatoes are the best in the world and quite possibly the universe. That's not arrogance that's just honesty. The truth is that mashed potatoes in general are made with flaws because to get the perfect creamy texture you have to actually put some work into them that a lot of restaurants don't want to spend time on. As a result you get a lump of white gunk on your plate with chunks of whole potato in them, no seasoning, and generally looking like a microwaved pile of regurgitated French fries.

My friends, I'm gonna let you in on the greatest cooking tip that you could ever want. I'm gonna show you what I did with my recent Thanksgiving potatoes that turned out ***SPOILER ALERT*** perfectly. Dudes, if you can master the art of mashed potatoes then you will be idolized more than Gordon Ramsay's short temper or Joe Bastianich's sleek bald head. True, potatoes are a side dish but they go with EVERYTHING. That's what makes them so damn important and why YOU need to master the art of mashing potatoes. So, let us begin:

***NOTE***I'm experimenting with picture sizes, so I've slightly adjusted the page's dimensions to cater to larger pictures. If something seems off on your screen then please let me know.

Boiling the potatoes usually makes people anxious because they don't know if you'll be able to pull off such a large amount of awesome just an hour before dinner

So I boiled about 15-20 potatoes for dinner and there was some anxiety as to how the hell I'd be able to pull off boiling, peeling, and mashing such a huge amount of potatoes just an hour before dinner. But alas, a kitchen crusader such as myself shows no fear in the midst of culinary challenges. These potatoes are like cadets at boot camp; I'm gonna mash 'em, smash 'em, and grind 'em down into the best damn potatoes they can be. Boiling can take a while so be sure to fill your pot with enough water so it's covering every potato and COVER IT so the heat doesn't go anywhere. Takes 20-30 minutes.

My troops, my soldiers, MY MINIONS!!!

As the waters boil and you eclipse 20 minutes of the submerged potatoes, start periodically poking them with a fork. If your fork slides through like a knife through butter then they're ready. 

I'm so badass that I peel hot potatoes by hand

Peeling potatoes with a girly peeler takes forever, so I suggest you try to be as manly as I am and peel the potatoes with your hands. Yes, it's gonna burn as hot potatoes tend to demonstrate, but run them under cool water and do it quickly. You'll save yourself tons of time at the expense of a couple second degree hand burns. And don't dump the skins down your sink cause that'll just clog stuff up.

Exhibit 1: commence mashing

Exhibit 1: The beginning of the mashing process. I recommend regularly working out during the year so your arms are totally ripped when it comes time to mash these bad boys, otherwise you'll look like a weakling if you begin to struggle. Remember: it's better to over-mash than it is to under-mash. 

Exhibit 2: taking on a shape

Exhibit 2: As you mash your potatoes down to a white fluff, begin adding your butter and milk. I actually used a butter substitute that wasn't as high in fat but you can use whatever. I used about 1.5-2 cups of 2% milk that was microwaved for about 40 seconds to give it a lukewarm temperature. Keep in mind that butter will give the potatoes texture while the milk will take it away so it's important to mix in a little bit of both at the same time. 

Exhibit 3: the five seasons

Exhibit 3: As you mix in your milk and butter you'll notice your potatoes beginning to take on more of a face. Now you can start mixing in your seasonings to give your potatoes the ultimate flavor experience. 

Exhibit 4, the near end product

Exhibit 4: Almost complete. At this point I have mixed in salt and pepper (don't be shy about using pepper; it gets absorbed and gives the potatoes a kick), as well as smoked paprika and the real stars of the dish: onion powder and garlic powder. These two worked in tandem to give these potatoes a massive amount of flavor that would have made Flava Flav frickin' jealous.

Exhibit 5: The Greatest Mashed Potatoes in the Universe

Exhibit 5: And here we are, plated in a beautiful bowl, topped with smoked paprika for a little color, and with plenty left in the pot for leftovers. And believe me: they were needed. I was wise to make so many. 

To recap, here are some rules that we learned:
1) Make sure the water covers all of the potatoes and don't pull them until you can easily slide your fork through the skin
2) Peel them by hand. Don't be a baby
3) Add a little butter and milk bit by bit. Adding too much of one could ruin your texture
4) You want your potatoes to have ZEST so use fun seasonings
5) For the love of Donald Trump's toupee: TASTE, TASTE, TASTE!

Feel free to experiment but the reality is you're not gonna find any potatoes better than mine. It's a craft and an art that few have been able to master since the beginning of time. You can't just boil and mash potatoes; you've gotta go through a process and nurture them into the final excellent product that you know they can be. I hope this was a fun read and you didn't stop too many times other than to perhaps take some notes.

Happy holidays!