Sunday, November 28, 2010

3 Tips to PERFECT Garlic Mashed Potatoes - Creamy AND Lumpy

Ah the classics... 

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Visiting family, if not gone yet will probably be heading out this morning.  All that remains is the memories and hopefully a refrigerator full of leftovers!

This year, I was under strict orders to not experiment.  The classics, turkey, dressing, simple vegetables, sweet potatoes and MASHED POTATOES.

Well, I brined the turkey in Pomegranate Juice (an experiment)

I baked a Chorizo Sausage dressing (an experiment)

I Sauteed Sweet Corn in butter with Cajun spices (I've made it before, but not simple vegetables)

I roasted Sweet Potatoes in a Tajine with apples and carrots in a brown sugar/maple syrup sauce (an experiment)

But... My mashed potato recipe is perfect in every way!  Sweet, creamy, with just the right amount of lumps, nicely seasoned with garlic and a touch of salt and pepper and esthetically pleasing with wisps of red potato peel throughout.

This is the classic, not to be experimented on

Here's Tip #1... Buttermilk AND Heavy Cream

Here's Tip #2... Russet Potatoes AND Red Potatoes

Here's Tip #3... Garlic, smashed and diced teeny, tiny

Here's why #1... Buttermilk has a tang and heavy cream certainly adds a thickness and richness that milk can not duplicate.  Best of both worlds.

Here's why #2... Russet potatoes will be slightly lumpy unless you just beat the heck out of them.  Red potatoes are perfect to get creamy potatoes.  A little of each gives you nice creamy potatoes with just a hint of lumps.  Also, peel the russet potatoes (brown does not add much aesthetics.  But, leave the peel on the red potatoes.  When they are smashed, little ribbons of red throughout will add a bit of color.

Here's why #3... And garlic should be there, but not in a size that you get a bite of garlic.  Taking the flat of a chef's knife and smashing a clove, then dicing as small as possible will give you that size.

Creamy, just a bit of lumps and a hint of garlic.

Here's my recipe (adapted from one by Alton brown)...

3 pounds Red Potatoes
3 pounds Russet Potatoes
2 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
8 cloves Garlic (peeled and smashed)

Fresh ground Pepper to taste
  1. Place all spud hunks in a 4 quart saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover.  Add 1 tsp salt to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the buttermilk, cream and garlic to a 2 quart saucepan and bring to simmer over low heat.  Watch to make sure the mixture does not boil over.  Stir occasionally.
  3. When the spud water boils, ditch the lid, drop the heat to simmer and cook until the taters are easily crushed with tongs.  Drain the potatoes well.  The less moisture, the better.
  4. Add the final teaspoon of salt, add 1/4 of the buttermilk mixture and start smashing.
  5. As the spuds break down, add more of the buttermilk mixture.  Remember these are smashed potatoes, not whipped potatoes.  The red potatoes will mash well, the russet potatoes will mash slightly, but also some will remain whole, leaving a nice mixture of creamy potatoes with firm hunks floating.  Mash to your desired results.

Try 'em this way, you'll never need to experiment on a classic!



  1. I completely agree with you on the "don't experiment with the classics" statement! Beautiful mashed potatoes! Mashed potatoes rule!!! :)

  2. There is a time for experimentation and craziness and there is a time to step back and enjoy something for what it's worth. I messed with a lot of things this Thanksgiving but, like you, the potatoes were not one of them. I think I might have to next year to make this recipe, though. Looovvveee garlic.

  3. The mix of russet and red bliss works for potato soups too. I think mashed potatoes are quite possibly the most perfect dish ever and I like 'em just the way you do them. You have to have a little rustic in there with SOME lumps and peels, garlic is mandatory, and creamy is the trifecta.