Mashed potato? The food of the Gods. I could eat it, drink it, bathe in it, wash my face in it and when it hardens, exfoliate with it, I love it that much. To say the Teen loathes it is an understatement. She detests it – the texture, the taste, the feel. When it comes to mash, we are very much at opposite ends of the potato field.
This causes a problem. Continuously, I opt for cooking food she adores but now and again, I want food for me. Shepherd’s pie with a delicious topping of mash is one of the ultimate comfort foods but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I see the sullen look on her face or listening to her whinge about it. Alright already! I get it! You don’t like mash but there has to be some compromise.
I’ve tried cheese and mash toppings – no joy. I tried a mash made of sweet potato and even typing that makes me wince at the memory. I’ve used Champ – deliciously made with milk, butter and chopped scallions – but it didn’t tantalise the Teen’s taste buds. Eventually, I had a Eureka moment! Leave the carrots out of the meat mixture and instead mash them into the potato with finely minced onion, some hot milk and a guilty dollop of butter. The Teen approved and all is well with the world again!
The perfect mash…?
The perfect mash is the one that tastes best to you. There is no magic formula but there are a few tips.
For me, the potatoes have to be of the fluffiest variety – for example, Golden Wonders, Roosters, Kerr Pinks. Start by peeling the potatoes and running under cold water to ensure all starch is gone.
The less water left after cooking the better. I favour steaming as this leaves them ready for mashing. By steaming rather than boiling, you don’t risk them disintegrating into mush in the pan. If I do boil them, I drain the potatoes completely. I return them to the now off hob, place a lid on them and let them dry out (mind they don’t stick!).
Whichever way I cook them, I put them into a warm saucepan on a low heat. I put in enough milk to cover the bottom of the pan, a generous portion of butter, salt and pepper. And then the mashing commences. I favour an old fashioned masher – a potato ricer can be used but it just seems unnatural to me. Giving the potatoes a good battering is a good way to relieve stress! To know if potatoes are properly mashed, run a (clean) finger along a scoop to see if there are lumps present. If lumps are present, mash on! Add salt and pepper and always taste to see if it suits your taste buds.
Here are some measurements and variations…
2½ lbs potatoes
2-4 ounces butter
Warm milk (enough to cover the bottom of saucepan or 7-8 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to season
Add 3-4 ounces of finely chopped scallions to the basic recipe. Traditionally, scallions (spring onions) are added to the mix. Finely chopped onion can be substituted.
9 ounces Kale cabbage, shredded and steamed (washed thoroughly and stalks removed)
2 tablespoons of pouring cream
Small onion, chopped finely.
Add these to the basic recipe omitting the milk. Traditionally, Kale cabbage is used but not everyone is wowed by the taste. The Teen loves the stuff and would happily chomp on Colcannon if it was mainly Kale with only a hint of potato. I’m not a fan – so I substitute white or Savoy cabbage as these have a milder flavour and smoother texture. She calls me a wimp; I prefer to say my palate is more cultured! 🙂