Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mashed Potato Heaven

I don't know about you, but I am guessing that you might love to eat hot, fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes.  Me too, but I have to confess that the way I learned to make them required using a mixer.  And the chances of ending up with lumps in your mashed potatoes was pretty high not to mention cold mashed potatoes by the time you were through.  Ugh!  So, for me it meant really not making them very often.

But here is the good part.  Recently I learned how to make mashed potatoes that end up as close as you can get to perfect every time.  And NO mixer needed.  I know you would want to know how to do this, so I have laid it all out for you in pictures because I am good like that. Ha!

The Secret to Mashed Potatoes 

Pick the right potatoes.  

Do not use the cute little sweet red potatoes.  NO!  Use only Russets or Yukon Golds because they have a higher starch content that makes beautiful mashed potatoes.

Cook them right.

Cooking is the most important part to getting lump free and creamy mashed potatoes.  If you cook your potatoes well, the rest is easy.

Choose russets as shown here or Yukon Golds.  Wash your potatoes.

 Peel and cut out bad or dark spots.

Cut the potatoes into uniform size pieces so they cook evenly.

Place in saucepan and cover with COLD water and salt.  Starting the potatoes in cold water helps to break down the starch faster.

Cook over medium heat, allowing the potatoes to boil.  IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you cook the potatoes long enough. You want the potatoes to cook until they are falling apart.

Drain the potatoes and then return them to the pan.  With a fork begin to mash the potatoes.

Continue mashing until all the potato pieces are broken down into one glorious pan of soft potato goodness.

Return the pan to the burner, low heat.  Yes, you read that right.  Put the potatoes back on the stove and while stirring, dry out the potatoes even more.  You should see steam rise from them and the edges will turn white.

While the potatoes are drying out, heat up milk with some butter in a separate pan.  BE generous with the milk!  You will need more than you usually add.

When the potatoes are dried out a bit more, pour in the hot milk and butter.  Begin to stir.

At first it will seem as if you are making potato soup.  THAT IS OKAY.  Keep stirring and you will see the potatoes start to soak up all of the milk and butter.

If you have done all of this, you will have the silkiest, creamiest, loveliest mashed potatoes.

You can eat them just as they are or you can make

Shepherd's Pie.

Serves 4

2 large, skinned chicken breasts
olive oil
1 stalk of celery
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced peppers, green, red or yellow
(any frozen vegetables you might have on hand, peas, green beans, broccoli.  This recipe is great to use up small quantities at the bottom of the bag.)
Better Than Bouillon chicken bouillon (comes in a jar and is THE best.)
dried thyme
tapioca starch or cornstarch

  1. Pat dry the chicken breasts.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium low-medium heat.
  3. Add 1 T of olive oil to the pan.
  4. Sprinkle one side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Put that side down in the hot pan.
  5. Set the timer for 5 minutes.
  6. Salt and pepper the other side of the chicken breasts.
  7. At the end of 5 minutes, turn the chicken breasts over and cook this side for 5 minutes.
  8. At the end of 5 minutes, cover the pan and set the heat to low.  Set the timer for 15 minutes.  Continue cooking.
  9. Wash the celery stalk and cut the stalk into thin pieces.
  10. Chop the onion and slice the pepper.  
  11. Peel and grate the carrots.
  12. Measure out 1 cup of frozen vegetables.
  13. When the chicken is done, remove from pan, set on plate and cover to rest.
  14. Using the same pan the chicken breasts were cooked in, add the raw vegetables.  Turn the heat back to medium.  Cook until the onions soften.  Add the rest of the vegetables.  Cook until all the liquid has evaporated from the pan.
  15. While the vegetables simmer, cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces.  
  16. Spread the chicken in a layer in the bottom of 8x12 shallow pan.
  17. When vegetables are ready, layer hot vegetables on top of the chicken.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dried thyme.
  18. Return saucepan to stove.  Measure 1 1/2 cups of water into the pan.  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon into the water.  Simmer.
  19. In a small bowl, measure 1 1/2 teaspoons of tapioca starch or corn starch.  Add some hot broth to the starch.
  20. Stir until the mixture is lump free.  
  21. Pour into the hot broth while stirring.  Keep stirring until mixture thickens.  Cook for 1 minute, then pour over chicken and vegetables in baking pan.
  22. With a large spoon, scoop mashed potatoes onto the top of the casserole.  Make sure you space out your scoops to cover the top.
  23. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  
  24. Turn on broiler and brown the potatoes lightly.
  25. Sprinkle on paprika and serve.

You will have a succulent Shepherd's Pie with homemade mashed potatoes.  

Serve with fresh fruit and cheese.
The best!

And my disclaimer is that the mashed potatoes shown in my pictures were made with original, unsweetened almond milk.

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