Using milk results in a mash with an earthy potato flavor; cream imparts a rich sweetness. If basic potatoes sound a little bland, use only the minimum amount of butter and cream, then, while the potatoes are still steaming hot, stir in up to 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) of grated sharp white cheddar or Gruyere cheese and stir gently until the cheese melts.
Chopping the potatoes prior to cooking cuts the cooking time in half.
In Advance: Peel the potatoes, place in a large pot, add cold water to cover and set aside for up to several hours.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 4 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2/3 to 1 cup heavy cream, half-and-half or milk
- 6 to 12 tablespoons butter , at room temperature
- Freshly ground black or white pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pan or pot and add enough water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Place over low heat, shaking the pot frequently, until any remaining moisture evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, in a small pan over low heat, heat the cream, half-and-half or milk.
Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, coarsely mash the potatoes. Add about 6 tablespoons of butter and 2/3 cup of cream (if using half-and-half or milk, start with 1/2 cup of liquid) and salt and pepper to taste and mix until combined. Taste and, if desired, add additional butter and/or cream (you will need slightly less liquid if you use half-and-half or milk than if you use cream). Serve immediately.
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