The Great Tater Debate

I’m going to spend the next few weeks getting my mashed potato game up. I know not everyone loves a good smashed tater, but they’re absolutely central to my Thanksgiving celebration. In order to make sure that this Celebration of Eating is absolutely as good as it can get, I’ve started planning my mashed potato strategy early. What? It’s good to have a plan of attack.

The first question that comes up when planning mashed potatoes is, “Which potato should I mash?” It’s important to choose something with nice potato flavor, and I’ve found that for me, the traditional russet potatoes just don’t cut it. Fingerling Russian Banana potatoes are awesome, but they’re wildly expensive and sold in such tiny bags that are not commensurate with my potato-eating goals.  So when I make mashed potatoes, I put my money on Yukon gold.

The second question that comes up when planning mashed potatoes is, “Skins, y/n?” The potato choice debate can get pretty fierce, but it’s nothing compared to the skin-inclusion debate. Personally, I go back and forth on this one. Potato skins are dee-licious, and it seems like such a waste to throw them out. Also, the potato skin is seen as good for people and most other living things, and if I’m throwing starch in with delicious salts, fats, and flavorings, I will take all the “healthy” I can get.

On the other hand, the skin can sometimes disrupt the flow of the mashed potato: it can be quite jarring to take a bite of something supposedly creamy only to come in contact with something sort of chewy and fibrous. And it’s not like every dish needs to be “healthy.” Sometimes, it’s good just to leap face first into the pillowy abyss of seemingly endless mashed potatoes.

Adding salt, pepper, and butter/margarine is pretty important, but past that, the rest is really up to the masher. Garlic, rosemary, fresh ground pepper, it all sounds good and tastes better.

So, gentle readers, what do you do with your mashed potatoes? Which potatoes do you use? Do you leave the skins on, or take them off? What makes your mashed potatoes so good?

7 replies on “The Great Tater Debate”

Any other day of the year, skins on would be fine, but on Thanksgiving you have to go traditional and that’s skins off (at least for my Midwestern family).

Also, cream cheese adds a nice flavor to mashed potatoes.  Just add it in when you add the butter/salt.  The hot potatoes will melt and mix the cheese.

I like mashed potatoes but I can’t make them.  There was a sweet spot from like 96-98 where I could make them and then it went to pot and from then on they came out gluey and disgusting.

Now I either cheat with the flakes (heathen, I know) or just get someone else to make them.  Or go sweet potato. (Sweet potato! Plain, with butter, with butter and cinnamon, with butter cinnamon and nutmeg.  MMMM.)

Forgive me, I’m about to sound dumb: There’s science behind fluffy mashed potatoes. (go on, take the sentence out of context. laugh some more. I’m okay with it.)

If they come out gluey, I think it’s from overcooking your spuds; rinsing the potatoes helps remove starch and ensure a creamy texture. Although what immediately popped into my head was an episode of ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ on the topic, watching those online from the official website is premium content. I hope this free recipe helps.

Also, sweet potatoes are made of win. <3

YUKON GOLDS!!!! The best tip I ever got was to heat the milk and butter before adding them to the potatoes; it makes them a lot creamier. I also add a LOT of garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. If you can find it, Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning adds an awesome spicy kick. And I hate skins on mashed potatoes. My husband likes them lumpy, which annoys me since that’s just big ass chunks of unseasoned potato.

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