My daughter Mary Leigh loves my mashed potatoes, and will not allow my wife to make them. I’m pleased to have such a hold on her affection. I too like creamy, lumpy, buttery, peppery mashed potatoes, without the other flavorings that have become the vogue in recent times. The variety of potato matters. When the red creamers look good, I get those. Yukon Golds are excellent, too. But white russet potatoes with no trace of green in the skin also come out nice. I boil the potatoes with the skins on, and peel them later. That does burn the fingers a little, but if you do it in the sink under a thin stream of cold water, it’s not too bad, and you get a better flavor.

  • 4 lbs. potatoes
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 oz. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. Boil the potatoes with the skins on. They’re done when you can jab them with a two-tined kitchen fork and not be able to lift them straight out of the water without their falling off.

2. Peel the potatoes as soon as they’re barely cool enough to do so. (I usually do this under a little running water.)

3. Put the potatoes in a large non-metallic bowl. (The metal promotes cooling, and you want them to stay hot.) Cut in the butter into double pats. Add the salt. Using a large, heavy wire whisk, mash the potatoes into pieces about the size of the tip of your little finger.

4. Heat the milk in the microwave until steaming. Add it and the salt to the potatoes and continue mashing. They will seem very wet at first, but as you continue to mash they’ll become creamy. Add a little more milk if necessary to get a lighter texture.

5. Add black pepper to taste. Do not attempt to remove all the lumps! The more you work the potatoes, the less good their texture.

Serves four to eight.

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