Yesterday I said sweet potato casserole might be my favorite Thanksgiving side, but mashed potatoes give it a run for its money. I know they seem too simple to do a post about, but I love them so much that I just can’t help myself.
We don’t save them just for the holidays either. Both Ryan and I never understood why something so simple and so good could only be enjoyed a couple times a year. When his mom was growing up, her family had mashed potatoes all the time, so she was kind of burnt out on them. I’m not sure why my family never had them regularly. I guess they were just seen as a special occasion side dish, or too much work for a week night meal.
I’ll admit they’re not always the healthiest side dish, especially with the amount of Earth Balance and/or gravy I add to them. I tend to think of them as a treat. I also like to have them with steamed kale, and that way I feel like the healthy kale balances out the potatoes.
I know many of you can probably whip these up in your sleep, but when I first started cooking I wasn’t sure how to make them. I also read a lot of conflicting information – salt the water before you boil, whatever you do, don’t salt the water before you boil – you get the picture. As for the salt, I’ve done it both ways and don’t really notice a huge difference.
You can also make these with whatever kind of potato you like best. Russets (or Idaho potatoes) make for a fluffier end result because they have so much starch, but other potatoes work well too.
Simple Mashed Potatoes
Russet potatoes (I usually do about 1 1/2 to 2 per person)
Earth Balance margarine to taste
vegetable broth or unsweetened non-dairy milk, warmed (about a 1/2 cup for 4 – 5 potatoes)
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Peel the potatoes and cut them into about 1/2-inch cubes. [I cut them pretty small so they'll cook more quickly.]
Place them in pot and cover with water. Boil the water, and cook the potatoes until they’re easily pierced with a knife or fork. It usually takes about 10 minutes or so once they’re boiling – depending on how many potatoes you use.
Drain the potatoes and either return them to the pot or transfer to a large bowl. [I usually remove them with a spider skimmer and put them in a separate bowl.] Add salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of Earth Balance margarine. Start mashing the potatoes. Depending on how dry they are as you mash, add your broth or non-dairy milk in 1/4 cup increments until you get the consistency you like. Taste them again for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
I just got Tal Ronnen’s amazing and beautiful new cookbook, The Conscious Cook, and there’s a basic recipe for cashew cream that you can substitute for heavy cream in recipes. After I read that I thought it would be really good in mashed potatoes, and sure enough, when I got to his mashed potato recipe it was listed with the ingredients. Maybe that’s the version I’ll save for holidays since it’s a little more decadent. Although once I try it I can’t guarantee I won’t make it all the time!