Introduction: Perfect Mashed Potato

Mashed potato. Not only a family favourite but also very easy to make (despite the depressing increase in frozen mashed potato that you can buy in the shops). You just boil up some potatoes, mash them up, add some butter and serve. However, the quality of mashed potato varies greatly. 

This Instructable aims to to help you take your mash making technique up to the next level and help you make light flavoursome mash every time. The technique does take longer than "normal" mashed potato but I think that the results are worth it. Let me put it this way - I have tried tricking my wife by doing the mash the ordinary way and she can tell every time and no longer likes "ordinary" mash. 

Items required;
1. Pan
2. Strainer
3. Masher

1. Potatoes (floury rather than waxy)
2. Water
3. Butter
4. Milk
5. Salt
6. Pepper
7 Olive Oil (optional)

Step 1: Starch Is Your Enemy

Mash can be heavy and gloopy, which is not nice and leaves you with a heavy feeling in your stomach after you have eaten it. This is down to the starch in the potato. When you cut open a potato you will notice a whitish liquid on your knife. That is the starch coming out of the potato. That starch is the enemy of good mash and getting rid of it is the key to good mash. There are two ways in which you can do this. The first is to choose the right potato. You want to choose a potato that is floury rather than waxy as this will give a lighter mashed potato. 

The next thing that you can do to reduce starch is the crucial part and is detailed in the next step.

Step 2: Rinse Those Potatoes

This step is slightly unusual so bear with me. Peel the potatoes but don't throw away the skins (skins sounds so much better than peelings don't you think?). I like to peel the potatoes over a big bowl of water and allow the skins to fall into the bowl. When the potatoes are peeled cut them up into even section (the more even they are the more evenly they cook) and then drop the potato into the bowl of water with the skins. Mix the potato and skins around with a spoon and let it rest for 5 minutes.

You can see from the picture that the water is slightly cloudy - that is the starch coming through.

After 5 minutes drain the potatoes and skins and then put them back into the bowl with some clean water. Repeat this step 3 or four times. This is an ideal time to flick through your favourite magazine or read your favourite blog (hopefully 

Step 3: Clear Water Is Your Friend

After 3 or 4 cycles of changing the water you will note that it stays clear, which is what you are looking for. This means that you have removed as much starch as you can. You can see in the picture that the water is much clearer than the previous one.

Remove the bits of potato and leave the skins in the water. Boil up the potato as normal to make your mash. Use as much water as you can as any residual starch will bleach into the water. If you see white foam on the top of the water when you boil the potatoes then you haven't taken out as much starch as you should have. If this happens you have several choices;

1. Skim off the foam using a spoon or ladle
2. Boil the kettle, drain the potatoes, replace the water with fresh boiling water
3. leave it and have another go next time.

Step 4: Why Keep the Skins?

The skins of the potato not only have all the goodness in them but also contain a load of flavour. When you peel the potatoes and throw away the skins you are throwing away some of the potential of your potatoes. Using this technique you can put some of that goodness and flavour back into your mash.

Remove the skins from the water and put them into a small pan with some milk, butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the milk with the skins whilst the potatoes boil. This will release all the flavour from the skins and infuse it into the buttery milk. The salt will enhance the flavour. This will simmer nicely but may turn a bit grey during the process. Don’t worry about this, it will all work out in the end, I promise.

Step 5: Finish the Mash and Enjoy.

When the potatoes are cooked (soft in the middle but not overdone so that they are falling apart) mash them up with your usual masher. Once they are mashed you can add some of the buttery potato infused milk into the potatoes. You want to add enough to make the mash creamy but not too sloppy. Remember you can add more but you can't take away. Be careful not to drop the skins into the mixture. Mix the mash and the mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. I sometimes add a drizzle of olive oil at this point which can add another dimension to your mash again.

And there you have it - perfect mash with a lovely light texture and a great potato flavour. Enjoy!

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