Classic Mashed Potatoes

Classic Mashed Potatoes The title of this post makes me drool a bit.  It isn’t the picture or the recipe, just the promise of potatoes and butter.  And like most honest, upstanding, hardworking Americans raised in the midwest, potatoes and butter have a special place in my heart and on my plate.  A very special place.  As in, I would take potatoes and butter to dinner on a date if I could.  Someplace nice….maybe Italian…

Fear not!  This is not a fancy dish.  Nothing complicated and no special ingredients.  I am not proposing a twist on an old classic or a riff on a recipe.  Just plain, straightforward, spectacular mashed potatoes.  Can you dig it?

I have been making pretty much these exact same potatoes for literally decades.  My Mom taught me how, but not consciously.  She just always did it the same and they were always outstanding.  I am pretty sure that if I were to eat them at her house today, she would be making them the same way.  Drain the potatoes, start the potatoes mixing in the Kitchen Aid, add a huge scoop or two of sour cream and a ridiculous amount of butter, then a splash of milk and some salt.  When they were whipped smooth, she would removed the whisk attachment and serve them right in the silver mixing bowl.  But not before taking the serving spoon and adding a huge knob of butter to the finished potatoes.  Plop!  Right on top, letting it melt into a well of salty, creamy, goodness while the rest of the food went to the table.  When I was little, I would volunteer to take the bowl to the table just so I could put it near my spot.  When it was time to eat, I wanted to be the first person to get the mashed potato bowl so that I could scoop out my serving with some of the freshly melted butter all over them.   Actually, I still eat my mashed potatoes this way; no gravy.  Just butter.  Mmm.

Below is a foolproof way of making mashed potatoes that just may upstage the turkey.  Make them this Thursday, make them with beef at Christmas, or make them on a Tuesday.  It’s your duty.
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Classic Mashed Potatoes
Treat this recipe like a guide.  You don’t really need exact measurements.

3 lbs peeled potatoes, russets or yukon gold, cut into equal sized hunks (peel however much you need-3 lbs is just a good starting point)
1 tsp or 1 clove minced garlic
sour cream or buttermilk
salt and pepper
milk or cream
more butter

Add your potatoes to a heavy bottomed pot, covering them by a half an inch with cold water.  Add the garlic to the water.  Simmer gently until cooked through and a fork pierces them easily.  Drain your potatoes.

Method One:  Put the hot potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl.  This is what I do.

Method Two:  Add the potatoes to a bowl and break up with the whisk attachment on a mixer or use a hand mixer.  Beat dry for a minute or two, getting them as smooth as possible before you add any other ingredients.

Add a big scoop of sour cream, a half cup or so.  Add several tablespoons of butter and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir.  TASTE THE POTATOES!  You should just be able to taste the tang of the sour cream in the background.  If they are bland, add more salt.  Mix and taste again.  Add more of whatever you need.  Add milk or cream until you reach your desired consistency.  Add a big glob if butter to the top of the bowl and serve.  These can easily be made the day before and reheated when you are ready to eat them.  Just stir in more milk or cream if you need the moisture.