Mashed Potatoes

Today my friends and I got together and made several Thanksgiving dishes, including mashed potatoes from scratch.

Preparation of the mashed potatoes from scratch was simpler than I thought and took less time than I thought it would take. As such, I learned that mashed potatoes are a great dish to prepare while other dishes are baking. This would also efficiently skip the need to reheat them. On the other hand, there were steps I could have taken to prepare the dish ahead of time and then just bake it before serving.

Steps We Took:
Listening to Radio Station: Florence + the Machine

Part 1:
Mark and I began peeling the potatoes. After they were mostly peeled, I worked on peeling any remaining skin and Mark began to wash them. We boiled water in a large pot. Then I cut the potatoes into smaller chunks. To keep a uniform size, I cut each potato in half along the length of the potato, and then cut each half in half. Finally, I cut each quarter into three or four chunks depending on the length of the slice. Mark put the potatoes in the boiling water.

Part 2:
After an unknown amount of time - though longer than half an hour - we poked the potatoes with a fork and no resistance was met. Now that the potatoes were nice and soft, we took turns mashing them with a spoon.*

Needing to scale the recipe, we estimated that we had bought large potatoes and that a large potato is about 8 ounces. Thus we figured we had 40 ounces (or 2.5 pounds) of potatoes. Finally, since the recipe on the site used 5 pounds of potatoes, we concluded that we would cut the recipe in half.

We used 3/4 stick, or equivalently 6 tablespoons, of butter. We also added 4 ounces of cream cheese. At this point, the original recipe adds a 1/2 cup of Half & Half. If I had some, I would have added it - but I didn't have any - so I just ignored it. Of the various spices and herbs I had, I decided to add dried parsley, Crazy Jane, and freshly ground black pepper. Perhaps - even after adding the Crazy Jane - the mixture was under salted, but we figured people can add salt later, and gravy tends to add enough salt to mashed potatoes.** We placed the mashed potatoes into a large bowl, covered it with clear plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge.

*Apparently its good to mash the potatoes over low heat to allow steam to escape to prevent them from becoming watery or mealy. Unfortunately, I didn't read this tidbit in detail until writing this post. Fortunately, I think we mashed for long enough that most of the steam escaped without mashing over low heat.
**While the instructions mentioned that one can keep it simple due to the gravy (come Thanksgiving time), they later advised to avoid undersalting the potatoes. This was hard advice to follow.

While I didn't have the time to fully follow and learn all the details that go into making mashed potatoes, the link I used was a great resource. With that being said, being able to improve on mistakes is part of why I blog my attempts at baking/cooking.

Some Missed Advice:
The resource I used to make the mashed potatoes had two useful tidbits I didn't notice.

The first was to top the potatoes with more slices of butter, cover with foil, and refrigerate.

The second was, when preparing the dish a day or two in advance, remove the mashed potato out of the fridge two to three hours before serving time and bake in a 350-degree oven covered with foil for 20 to 30 minutes (or until warm).

In contrast, I just covered the bowl (didn't top with butter), refrigerated it, and then microwaved it for 5 minutes.

The "tastes good without gravy" Version
Partial Result:
The mashed potatoes were hardly touched at the dinner and so I had enough leftovers to which I can bake after adding more spices and herbs.

[20121130][20161112 Edit]

I've slowly been chipping away at the mashed potatoes over the past few days. Overall, I'm happy that I achieved the creamy texture that was intended by the recipe. Unfortunately, the mashed potatoes were bland on their own and depended on the gravy to give them any taste.

[20121130][20161112 Edit]

Today I added paprika, lemon & pepper, Jane's Mixed-Up Salt, dried oregano, and pepper to the mashed potatoes. Then I sautéed about half an onion (chopped) until browned, or even charred, and added it to the mashed potatoes.
Today's adjustment made the mashed potatoes delicious. I saved what I had left of this new mix for dinner.

I also loved the smell that the sautéed* onions left in my apartment. It filled it and I noticed it most after I had left and returned to it.

*I replaced the adjective "browned" with "sautéed" because there are different ways to brown onions and hence I wanted to be more specific on how I browned the onions by specifying they were sautéed. On the other hand, sautéed onions don't necessarily have to be browned. In fact, a lot of the chopped onion had begun to blacken.

[20121201][20121202 Edit][20161112 Edit]

Relevant Links:
Delicious, Creamy Mashed Potatoes (
My Thanksgiving Dinner (Table of Contents) post
My Sausage, Asparagus, and Mashed Potatoes post

Grammar Lesson:
Question: Which of the following do you think is correct? 1) "The mashed potatoes are bland" 2) "The mashed potatoes is bland" 3) "The mashed potato is bland."
Answer: First, the dish in American English is called "mashed potatoes" while the dish in British English is called "mashed potato" (analogously there is "scrambled eggs" and "scrambled egg"). In American English, one would say "The mashed potatoes are bland," analogous to how one would say "These pants are blue." One could alternatively say, "The mashed potato dish is bland" or "The mashed potatoes dish is bland," analogous to how one would say "This pair of pants is blue."

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