I did it. I actually did it.
Ladies and gentlemen, mashed potatoes have now officially been perfected. You may think you’ve had good mashed taters before – you may even think you have a pretty darn good recipe yourselves – but trust me when I say you have not had good mashed taters until you’ve had these mashed taters. If you happen to be planning a big Sunday night dinner for your family on this fine Mother’s Day evening, I beg of you to make these for the special lady in your life. You won’t regret it.
What you need (serves 10-12 people):
1) 5-6 Russet potatoes. These are great for baking, boiling, or anything in between. They are a bit starchy though, so they have to be rinsed before cooking. We’ll get to that part later.
2) ½ cup of butter.
3) 1 and ½ cups of cream cheese.
4) 2 cups of parmesan cheese.
5) 1 cup of chopped scallions.
6) 4 cloves of minced garlic.
7) Salt or pepper, if you like either of those on your potatoes.
8) A bag of shredded cheddar cheese.
What to do:
1) Skin all of the potatoes and chop them up into roughly bite size cubes. Put all of the cubes into a large pot.
2) Rinse the potatoes out in the sink with cold water. You will see the water get a bit murky. That is just all of the starches being washed off. Simply dump out the water while holding the potatoes in the pot, and repeat this step until the water is clear.
3) Once you’ve got clear water, make sure your potatoes are fully submerged and put the pot on the stove. Heat to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. You can use this time to prepare whatever your main dish might be (in my case, baked salmon on a bed of lemon slices and rosemary).
4) Also while your potatoes are boiling and simmering, preheat your oven to 350 degrees (if you are not using it already for something else). Following that, mince your garlic and chop up your scallions. Take a small pot and heat up the butter, cream cheese, garlic, and scallions all together into a melty, saucy consistency. The cream cheese and butter will appear to separate from each other, and that’s okay. Everything doesn’t quite appear to come together and blend perfectly until it’s poured into the potatoes anyway.
5) By the way, the cream cheese will melt much, much slower than the butter. You have to find a nice balance on your stove to have enough heat to melt the cream cheese into the mixture without outright burning your butter. By the time everything is all melted and mixed, your potatoes should be ready to mash. Take your mixture in the small pot off the burner and let it sit for a few minutes while you handle the taters.
6) Strain your potatoes to get as much water out as humanly possible. The drier they are the better. That’s what helps them fluff up.
7) Once your potatoes are good and dry(ish), mash them up with an egg whisk in a large bowl while periodically mixing in more of your cream cheese sauce. Don’t do it all at once. Gradually mixing helps the potatoes have a more consistent taste and texture throughout. Throw in any salt and pepper at this time as well, if you want it.
8) Now, you may notice that once that once the butter and cream cheese goes into the potatoes they immediately get a bit runny, or at the very least more viscous. Don’t worry about that. The next step is to add the 2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese, which thickens the potatoes right back up to the perfect texture. You always, always want to add the parmesan after the cream cheese in order to have this effect.
9) I forgot to actually take a picture of what these potatoes looked like at this point when I made them last night, but the picture at the top of this article is roughly the result you are looking for by this step. If your meal looks like this, you’re doing well so far.
10) Take your mashed potatoes out of your large bowl and put them into a 3-4 inch deep baking pan. Spread them all out as evenly as you can, and then cover the entire surface with shredded cheddar cheese. By now your oven should have been preheated to 350 degrees, so pop the pan in for 30 minutes. Again, take this time while it is baking to attend to whatever other dishes you are preparing for the evening.
11) When your timer goes off, take the mashed potatoes out of the oven and let sit for a few minutes to cool. It’s ready to serve from here. Enjoy having your culinary life changed forever.
Wow, I just wrote over 800 words on mashed potatoes. This is either a new high or a terrifying new low in my young life. Either way, at least I have something to eat for the next few days. Do you have any unbeatable potato-related recipes of your own? If so, sound off in the comments below. I'm always willing to try new things with mankind's favorite vegetable.