The cheat’s method (or the midweek, time-is-of-the-essence option)
Pre-roasting potatoes might be all well and good on a weekend, but when you’re trying to whip up a quick Wednesday-night dinner? Ain’t nobody got time for that. You can have restaurant-style potatoes on the table in under 20 minutes using the cheat’s method. Just peel, dice, boil and mash. Boiling draws out some of the starchiness so when they’ve finished cooking it’s really important to let them steam and dry off. To take this midweek wonder to, as MasterChef would put it, the next level, instead of your trusty potato masher, RACV's chefs suggest pushing the cooked spuds through a fine-mesh sieve instead. This will help you get that perfectly lump-free texture.
Is there an ideal butter-to-spud ratio?
How much butter to add to your mashed potato depends on one thing: how healthy you are. Many restaurants add butter until the potato can take no more and it splits, then they add a touch of milk to help it emulsify (many restaurant mashed potato dishes are up to 50 per cent butter). For home potato heads, RACV's chefs say a ratio of 25 per cent butter, 25 per cent milk and 50 per cent potato should do the trick. Be sure to warm the butter and/or milk first so that it absorbs better into the mash.
And if you’re wanting to keep it a little lighter, try using olive oil instead of butter. You still get that beautifully rich fresh texture as well as a lovely herbaciousness from the olive oil.”
What about condiments?
Butter and milk are the mainstays of mashed potato, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up a little. Mustard and fresh herbs such as parsley or dill can be quite nice, but if you want to really up the potato ante, RACV's chefs recommend adding a little burnt butter, which gives your simple side dish a lovely nutty flavour.
Should you add cheese to your mash?
Whether you love cheese or you’ve slightly overcooked the potatoes and need something to bind them and make them less slushy, fromage is always a good idea. There is a famous French mashed potato recipe called pommes aligot that uses whipped tots and melted tomme cheese. It becomes super silky and stringy.
How can you tell when the potatoes are ready for mashing?
Overboil your potatoes and they’ll end up a mushy, watery mess. Undercook them and they’ll still be a little too firm to whip up. For fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth mash, your potatoes need to be just right. There should be no resistance. To test, use a skewer, sharp knife or even your finger - if you can push the flesh in and it’s nice and soft, there’s no residual tension there, they’re ready.