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Buttermilk Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

“Fluffy”, “creamy”, “flavorful”...are these the words you want to hear as your guests describe the mashed potatoes you have prepared?  Instead are you hearing words like, “gummy”, “heavy”, and “unseasoned”?  Never fear!  Follow these ten tips and you will have light and fluffy, creamy and dreamy mashed potatoes every time. 

Tips for Perfect Potatoes:

1. Pick the Right Potato.  Use either all Yukon Gold potatoes or a blend of Yukon Gold and Russet or Red Skin Potatoes.  Yukon Gold, and other types of waxy potatoes, have a rich, buttery flavor and creamy texture when mashed.  Combining them with a starchy potato, like Russets or Red Skin, will prevent your mashed potatoes from becoming gummy, while adding a delicious flavor.

2. Start with a Clean Slate.  Whether you plan on peeling your potatoes or not, they must be washed.  Potatoes are dirty!  As you peel them, that dirt gets on your hands and on the potato.  Wash potatoes in cold water while scrubbing them with a vegetable brush to remove visible dirt.

3. Start your potatoes in cold water.  Peel, cube, and place your potatoes in the cooking pot.  Then, cover them with cold water and turn on the burner.  This will ensure that they cook evenly throughout.  

4. Season the cooking water.  The time potatoes spend cooking in the water is an opportunity to add more flavor.  Remember to salt the water once it comes to a boil.  For an extra boost of flavor, add granulated vegetable bouillon, dehydrated onion or garlic.  Try using broth, instead of water, to cook your potatoes.
5. Make sure your potatoes are dry.  Once your potatoes have finished cooking, drain them well.  Then, return them to the cooking pot.  Let them sit in the hot pot for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.  This will remove any excess water that might be lingering on your potatoes. 

6. Add in ingredients at the right temperature.  Adding milk, sour cream, butter, or cheese straight from the refrigerator will bring down the temperature of your mashed potatoes.  Add warmed milk and melted butter to your potatoes.  Sour cream and cheese can be set out on the counter and brought to room temperature. 

7. Use sour cream or buttermilk instead of milk.  For added flavor and zip use sour cream or buttermilk in place of the milk your recipe calls for.  You can replace the exact amount of milk in your recipe with buttermilk.  To use sour cream instead of milk, you will need to gradually add in the sour cream until you reach the texture that you like.  Start with about ? cup of sour cream for servings of mashed potatoes. 

8. Stop while you are ahead.  Do not overmix your mashed potatoes.  Use a light hand while mashing them to preserve their delicate texture.  A ricer is a great tool for creating light and fluffy mashed potatoes.  You could also use an electric mixer set on low speed or a hand masher.  Do not use a food processor!  This will create an overworked, gummy ball of mashed potato glue.

9. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Remember to taste your potatoes before you serve them to your guests.  Adjust the seasonings and liquids until you have the flavor and texture you are looking for.

10. Don’t make them too early.  Leftover mashed potatoes taste good, so it would seem like a good idea to make your mashed potatoes the day before and then reheat them.  As mashed potatoes set in the refrigerator, they become compact and lose that light and fluffy texture you worked so hard for.  If you need to make them ahead of time, prepare them a few 2-3 hours earlier in the day.  Place your warm potatoes in a crockpot set on low or covered with plastic wrap in the top portion of a double boiler.  If your potatoes become dry, add a splash of milk or broth.  When you are ready to serve, fluff up your potatoes with a fork to bring back their light texture. 

Looking for mashed potato inspiration?  Serve one of these tried and true recipes at your holiday gathering:

Classic Mashed Potatoes
Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
Brie Baked Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes and Apples with Bacon and Onions
Garlic Topped Paprika Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes with Spinach Pesto
Herbed Mashed Potatoes
Grainy Mustard Mashed Creamy Potatoes
Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes