All potatoes are not created equal. Spuds can vary in flavor, color and texture, particularly when you delve into the heirloom versions available at local farmers markets. But when you're aiming for perfect mashed potatoes, it's no time to play games; here is the guide to how to select the potato that will make your mashed potatoes swoon-worthy. Bear in mind: what's perfect for you might not be perfect for someone else. But if you're looking for creamy, fluffy or rich potatoes, we're here to show you how simple it is to get there just by choosing the right ingredients.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes - Yukon Gold
For creamy mashed potatoes, a medium-waxy variety, like Yukon gold, is a good option. As they break down, they release their starch, and particularly when combined with butter and cream, make for deliciously creamy mashed potatoes. Because Yukon gold potatoes tend to have a strong potato flavor, they hold up well to the addition of a variety of dairy products to get the texture right. And Yukon golds can hold up well with cooking, meaning that if you like lumps in your mashed potatoes, they'll hold together fine. Alton Brown's creamy mashed potato recipe calls for a food mill, but if you want lumps, mash at least some of your potatoes with a good old-fashioned masher.
Fluffy Mashed Potatoes - Russet
If you're looking for good old-fashioned fluffy mashed potatoes, a mealy potato like a russet is your best bet. Removing as much starch as possible, like in this fluffy mashed potato recipe, is ideal to get a texture that is fluffy without being gluey or sticky. The process may be a bit more labor intensive than a more traditional mashed potato recipe, but the fluffy result will be well worth the effort.
Rich Mashed Potatoes - Ratte
Joel Robuchon is known by some as the king of mashed potatoes; his super rich mashed potato recipe calls for half the volume of butter to potato, no small feat! Incorporating all of the butter necessary calls for a very special variety of potato: the ratte. Yukon golds can be substituted in a pinch, but the waxy texture of the ratte will help hold together all of the butter in this ultra-rich purée.
Once you've got your potatoes the way you want them, feel free to doctor your mashed potato recipe, using add-ins or other ingredients. Our mashed potato and celery root or roasted garlic mashed potatoes are two great places to start.
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Image: Brown Guacamole