Mashed potatoes have always been one of my favorite foods. I don’t know what it is about them, but they are just so nice and soft and starchy and delicious. They are also one of the first things I learned how to cook, and they’re super easy to make. The hardest part is peeling the potatoes, which you don’t even have to do if you like the skins in there, and which is pretty fast once you get the hang of it – just make sure you use a good peeler and it’s no sweat.
Once you’ve peeled your potatoes (in this case I peeled half of them), chop them into about 1/2 inch squares and toss them in a big pot of boiling water. Some people like to add a tablespoon or so of salt to the water but it’s optional – I like it both ways. Let them boil for about 15 minutes until they are easily pierced with a fork – if you like your mashed potatoes a bit chunky take them out a little earlier, if you like them very smooth let them boil a couple extra minutes. Drain and rinse and put them in a big bowl (or back in the same pot if you don’t want to dirty a bowl)
You can use a potato masher, a hand mixer, a food mill, or even an immersion blender – they all work great, it just depends on what consistency you want. Or which one you have laying around the house, in my case. I tend to go with a hand mixer, but mashed potato purists will say that that actually makes them “whipped potatoes.” Whatever you use, just add a bit of oil (I use a neutral canola or safflower oil) to coat them and then a bit of milk substitute of your choice – I recommend either soy or rice milk, I’ve tried it with almond and it gives the potatoes an almond-y flavor I didn’t really like. The more milk you add, the softer the potatoes will be.
In this case, I was going for a slightly more chunky potato, but if I’d cooked them longer or added more milk these same ones could have been nice and smooth. You can also add salt, pepper, onion or garlic powder, or if you want to make garlic mashed potatoes just peel about 10-20 cloves of garlic (yes, that sounds like a ridiculous amount of garlic. Don’t worry, I haven’t completely lost touch with normal human taste buds yet – roasting it makes it much milder), roast them in the oven for about 5 minutes until they are just starting to brown, and then toss them in and mash them along with the potatoes.
So easy, so delicious. I know mashed potatoes aren’t really something most people think of as a “beginning of summer” food, but I can pretty much eat them any time. Plus, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and corn on the cob make an excellent set of picnic or BBQ side dishes!