Our daughter, Jessi, absolutely loves mashed potatoes, and so in June of 2006 she and I set out to create the mashed potatoes of our dreams. She wanted rich, flavorful, indulgent potatoes… I wanted potatoes that managed to taste indulgent, without all the remorse.
We must have succeeded, because after we whipped them up for my mother-in-law, she exclaimed… “Oh Jean, these are decadent!”
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
|Position an oven rack just below center; preheat to 450°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer).||Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.|
|4 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes (no substitutions)||Meanwhile, rinse and cut out any damaged areas. Evenly pierce each potato 6-8 times with a sharp knife. Space a few inches apart on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper; bake until flesh tests tender when pierced with a skewer or knife (45-50 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack to cool (10-15 minutes). Reduce oven to 350°F.||Russets whip easily and yield a fluffy texture.Piercing prevents a steam burst. Cooling with skins intact reduces dehydration.|
|1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3-4 pieces
|In a 1-pint tempered glass measuring cup, heat together on high power just until butter melts.||Preheated milk keeps potatoes hot during whipping.|
|Cut potatoes in half. Push halves, cut sides down, through a potato ricer, discarding the skins that are left behind. Stop when riced flesh measures 42 ounces. Add potato flesh and preheated milk to a 4-quart, deep sided bowl.||A potato ricer eliminates potato lumps.|
|3 green onions, angle sliced||
Add to potatoes, reserving 2 tablespoons for the garnish.
Tip: Peel off damaged onion layers. Cut off and discard roots, then slice at a 45 degree angle into 1/8-inch slices.
|Onions add flavor and moisture to the potatoes.|
|2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian herb mix (basil, parsley, oregano)
1 1/2 teaspoons roughly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
|Add seasonings to the potatoes; blend with an electric mixer. To avoid spatter, start on low and move slowly up to high until potatoes are moist and fluffy.||An exact ratio of potato flesh to milk yields perfectly fluffed potatoes every time.|
|3/4 cup (3 ounces) freshly shredded mozzarella||With a flexible silicone spatula, fold into potatoes. Scrape into a single 2-quart oven safe dish, or divide between single serving oven safe dishes. If using the smaller dishes, space on a sturdy sheet pan to simplify insertion and removal from the oven.||Freshly shredded has a smoother melting texture than pre-shredded.|
|3/4 cup (3 ounces) freshly shredded mozzarella
Cracked black pepper
|Distribute potatoes with cheese, crack pepper over top. Bake, uncovered, until cheese melts (10-15 minutes). Just before serving, finish with reserved sliced onions. Allow potatoes to remain uncovered until serving. Serve promptly.||Covering traps moisture, making the potatoes soggy.|
Testing notes: To decrease prep time, use the microwave. Pierce each potato deeply and evenly 7-8 times with a paring knife to prevent a steam burst. Cook on high power until flesh tests tender when pierced with a skewer or knife (20-25 minutes, depending on the microwave).
TWICE BAKED POTATOES
Makes 12. Use your favorite shredded cheese, such as mozzarella, cheddar, Colby or Monterey Jack. Select 6 large (12 ounce), blemish free Russets. After baking and cooling, slice neatly in half and spoon out as much flesh as possible without tearing the shells. Space shells open sides up on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper; spoon whipped flesh back into each. Before topping with cheese and black pepper, distribute with 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper plus 1-2 ounces finely chopped precooked meat, such as pepperoni, sausage, or ham. Bake as directed.