Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I knew I wouldn’t have the luxury of peeling five pounds of potatoes on Thanksgiving day, so I took my chances and made them ahead of time.  It worked out really well, I think part of the trick is the butter that’s dotted on top before these go into the oven. I also think it’s critical that you let the potatoes come to room temperature before you bake them to finish heating this up.  I had never put cream cheese into my mashed potatoes before, but I can now attest to the creaminess it lends and to the fact that you don’t taste the cream cheese at all.  As far as the skin-on, skin-off debate, I prefer my potatoes skin-on, but when I’m serving company, I remove the skins before boiling the potatoes.  For seasoning, I like to add some garlic salt and pepper, but seasoned salt is great as well.  I also advise starting the potatoes in cold water and letting it come up to a boil and then reducing the water to a simmer, rather than dropping the potatoes into already boiling water.  Doing it this way helps ensure that the inside of the potato is cooked at the same time the outside is, meaning less watery (or lumpy) mashed potatoes.

My newest trick is to run the potatoes through a potato ricer.  I seemed like a potato ricer was a kitchen gadget we didn’t need, but having used one for five pounds of potatoes (and five pounds of sweet potatoes!), I can confirm that the potato ricer earned its keep.  Whatever you do, PLEASE do not use a hand mixer, or a food processor to make mashed potatoes.  I know, it’s easy.  I also know that this results in a gummy mashed potato.  I know, you’ve been making them that way forever instead of using a food mill, potato ricer, or a hand masher.  That means you probably haven’t noticed just how long you’ve been eating gummy mashed potatoes.  Once you have truly mashed potatoes, you’ll notice a difference and never go back.

creamy mashed potatoes

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. Russet (or Yukon Gold)Potatoes
  • 3/4 C. butter
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream  cheese, Softened
  • 1/2- 3/4 C. half-and-half
  • 1/2- 1 tsp. garlic salt or seasoned salt (such as Lawry’s or Penzy’s 4S)
  • 1/2- 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size.

Place the potatoes into a large pot of cold water.

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook the potatoes for 30-35 minutes, until the potatoes almost (but don’t entirely) fall apart when pierced with a fork.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander.

When the potatoes have finished draining, either place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove and mash the potatoes over low heat with a hand masher, allowing the steam to escape OR put the potatoes through a potato ricer, adding the riced potatoes back into the pot on the stove.

Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half to the potatoes and mash the additions in using a hand masher.  Add the remaining half-and-half only if necessary.

Next, add about ½ teaspoon of the garlic (or seasoning) salt and ½ teaspoon of  the ground black pepper.

Stir well and place in a 9×13 inch baking dish, taste for seasoning and add remaining garlic salt and pepper if needed.

Put a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes (optional, but highly recommended if making these ahead of time), cover in foil, and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through, about 20 minutes.

To make the potatoes ahead of time, complete all steps until the dish is wrapped in foil and refrigerate (only for a day or two).  Remove the dish from the refrigerator three hours before serving time, then bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until warmed through.

Makes 12 very generous side servings.

Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman

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