In my Essential Kitchen Equipment series, I’m going to share overviews of what I consider to be the items no kitchen should be without. I’m not talking about the latest gadget. I’m talking about maybe a dozen or so simple items you must have to make your kitchen hum.
Of course one could spend endless amounts on all sorts of fancy equipment and gadgets. Most of those will not make you a better cook, these will: The Sharpest Knife in the Block.
I'm putting an asterisk next to "essential" here. I know, I know, that's not what "essential" means, so this qualified "essential" what are we saying exactly?
- Does every kitchen need to have a potato ricer? No.
- Do you need a potato ricer to make very good mashed potatoes? No.
- If you're a slightly food-obsessed Thanksgiving-lover with a husband for whom no amount of potatoes are ever "enough" - is a potato ricer really essential? You bet.
So, if you're in that latter category with me, this is definitely something you should acquire and I guarantee you'll be glad you did.
Like a giant garlic press (thanks Carrie!), the ricer is a levered squeezer that allows you to force the hot, boiled potatoes through the holes.
Recipe for Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Here's an instructographic for Perfect, Simple Mashed Potatoes, if you're more visual.
- First, choose your potatoes. I prefer Yukon Gold, they have a yellow flesh that is already flavorful. Second best, Russets. Also choose organic if at all possible. Potatoes are one of those items that are often sprayed with fungicides, and they grow entirely in the soil which can include an accumulation of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides.
- Next, peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and place in the pot, big enough to hold them with some room at the top.
- Cover with chicken stock or water. If gluten is an issue use water or carefully read the label. Chicken stock (low sodium, organic) lends a nice subtle flavor to the potatoes.
- Boil till a knife gently pierces the potatoes.
- Heat a small amount of milk, soy milk or coconut milk substitute and soften some butter. These amounts are to taste and I find I can almost eliminate butter altogether by choosing buttery potatoes like Yukon Golds and cooking in chicken stock.
- Once the potatoes are done, drain the stock off completely. Return the potato chunks to the hot pot to dry off any remaining liquid.
- Place your ricer over your warmed serving bowl, and begin forcing chunks of potato through the ricer.
- When all the potatoes are "riced" add hot milk and soft butter to taste, salt and white pepper.
That is it. Easy, perfect mashed potatoes.
Without a ricer, a simple masher will do, or a hand mixer, or even a large fork.
Common problems to avoid:
- trying to mash cold potatoes - won't work.
- using a food processor or blender - no! - you want to eat glue?
- adding too much extra stuff - good potatoes should taste like potatoes. Not cream cheese, not sour cream, not garlic, not parmesan....In my house we always have delicious homemade gravy and the simplicity of that with simple potatoes is one of the true comforts of Thanksgiving.
Don't forget to check with Kitchenwares, our sponsor and our favorite Kitchen supplies store for helpful Thanksgiving prep tools and tips. Their new store Reflections is perfect for tableware for the holiday, too.