Magic Mashed Potatoes

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'Magic?' you ask. Magic indeed. 

These are by far the easiest mashed potatoes I have ever made. They also happen to be the lightest, healthiest, and most economical, on top of being allergy free. One would think there would have to be a bit of sorcery involved, no?

I was totally bummed when I first came to realize that my food sensitivities would keep me from my beloved mashies. I mean, not only are they the most awesome comfort food ever, but it was one of the few dishes that I had a killer recipe for and could make really well. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled. But I was not going down without a fight. So I got to work scouring my cookbooks and the internet to find a suitable substitute for my traditional dish. I combined techniques and ingredients from over a dozen sources, put several of my own concocted recipes to the test, and have landed on this gem as the winner.

In our house, mashies have now been upgraded to week night status, thanks to this recipe. Start to finish, they can be made in an hour or less with minimal effort. Cue the happy dance!

 The omission of dairy transforms these potatoes into a heart-healthy and waist-friendly dish. And the ingredient list couldn't be simpler, which means big savings at the grocery store. All of which translates into scarfing down big bowls of creamy goodness without the guilt. Now that's just good for the soul...

Are you enchanted yet?

When entertaining, why not take these to another level and create a 'mashed potato bar' to go along with them? Creatively provide a variety of spud add-ons along with the mashies. Your guests will enjoy the flexibility of recreating their favorite flavors, or being adventurous and trying something new. And you will be able to please just about everybody and earn rock-star status in the process.

Who knew that mashed potatoes could be so magical? 

Recipe notes:

When roasting the garlic, you don't need the oven temp to be exactly 350F. As long as it's between 300 and 375 you're good, just adjust the cooking time accordingly (add 5-10 minutes for a lower temp, subtract 5-10 for the higher). More often than not I use my toaster oven to roast the garlic and it works out beautifully. You can even roast the garlic the day before and store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it, which can be advantageous when entertaining and trying to orchestrate things in the kitchen.

You can use yellow or red thin-skinned potatoes. You're going to leave the skins on for this recipe, so definitely buy organic if you can, scrub the potatoes well, and cut out any 'eyes' or damaged parts. You want all of the potatoes to be roughly the same size so that they cook evenly, so cut any large potatoes in half in necessary. 

Potatoes that are started in cold water cook more evenly, so it's important not to overlook this step. Also, be sure to heavily salt the water with a small palmful of kosher salt. It seems like a lot, but in reality only a very small percent of that salt will make it into the dish. You will actually need to salt the potatoes again when you mash them.

A word of caution: It's easy to forget to save some of the cooking water. Trust me. I've found that if I place a bowl and ladle right next to the stove while the potatoes are cooking it works great to remind me. And also spares me any head-slapping or blurting of obscenities! 

Breaking up the cooked potatoes with a towel is a fool-proof way to get lump-free mashies. Any that are undercooked can simply be left out! Gotta love that. This little trick makes for stress-free cooking which is something I totally appreciate.

The amount of roasted garlic you add to your potatoes is really a personal one. I've found that I prefer one large garlic clove for this recipe. For me it gives enough flavor without overwhelming the potatoes.  

I prefer to use fine sea salt in the end when mashing the potatoes because it dissolves quickly and has a delicate flavor. Kosher salt can become surprise crunchy bits, and regular table salt can have a harsh chemical taste.  

Also, when mashing the potatoes be mindful that over-mixing makes them 'gluey.' You want to mix as little as necessary to get the right consistency, then stop.

And one final word of caution — keep in mind that adding too much cooking liquid will turn your mashies into a soupy mess, super quick! 


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Magic Mashed Potatoes

This recipe makes enough for about 6 servings, but you can easily double or triple it if need be.

 

  • 1 - 2 garlic cloves, papery skins left on
  • drizzle of pure olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 2.5 lbs white potatoes, scrubbed
  • kosher salt (for cooking water)
  • 1 to 2 cups cooking water
  • fine sea salt

 

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Put the garlic cloves on a piece of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then turn the cloves a few times to coat. Fold the aluminum foil around the garlic to make a little pouch and pinch the edges shut. Roast the garlic in the oven for about 30 minutes, until very soft and paste-like. Set aside to cool.

Scrub the potatoes and remove any eyes or damaged areas. Place them in the bottom of a large pot, then add enough cold water to cover them by an inch. Add 1 heaping tbsp kosher salt to the water. Set the burner on medium-high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a soft simmer until tender, about 30 minutes for small potatoes, and up to 50 minutes for large ones. You don't want to overcook them. Check on the potatoes periodically with a fork — when the tines go in without resistance they are done. Before you drain the potatoes ladel out a few cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Drain the potatoes. Then using a clean towel to protect your hands, pick up each one individually and break up the potato, dropping it back in the pot. Squeeze one clove of roasted garlic out of it's skin and into the pot, and add one ladle full of cooking water (about 1/3 of a cup). Mix with electric beater or hand-held masher. Season to taste with salt and more garlic if desired, and if necessary add a little more cooking water (being mindful to keep them on the dry side). Enjoy!