Friday, March 13, 2009

6 things that will improve your mashed potatoes

By Ben Cook

Ever since Sir Walter Raleigh and his bunch of sea-faring men brought potatoes to England from the New World, they have been used in many dishes all over Europe. French fries, potato chips and mashed potatoes have become part of our daily diet thanks to them.

The mashed potatoes recipe, especially, has had a memorable history. It all started in 1771, where a Frenchman, Antoine Parmentier suggested potatoes as a theme for a competition. He won first prize. He cultivated potatoes and even had a group of royal troops guard a farm near Paris. However, the guards may have not been vigilant enough, because peasants managed to steal some from the farm. This effectively launched potatoes into French and, much later, European cuisine.

Today there are plenty of different ways to make mashed potatoes. Actually the basic recipe is not very different most of the times, it is what is later added to the mashed potatoes that makes the difference. Things like cheese, bacon, onions are often added to the recipe. There are also plenty of recipes that use mashed potatoes as a strating point - potato croquette for instance.

So lets make mashed potatoes. You will need:

- one (1) cup of heavy cream (use low-fat cream if you're watching your figure),

- half (1/2) cup of salted butter,

- some salt for the seasoning

- six potatoes (not to big, not to small)

First tip I will give you is about what kind of potatoes to use. The best ones for mashing are red and Russet Burbank potatoes. They give a rough and unique texture to the end product. If you don't like lumps in your taters, use Russet and Yukon Gold potatoes. These give a smooth and creamy feel to the whole dish.

The first thing you need to do is peel and wash the potatoes. If you want, you can leave some of the skin on them. This will make your recipe a bit rustic and not so ordinary.

Now for the next secret - cut your potatoes and make big pieces. Big pieces will absorb less water and will make beter mashed potatoes. Next tip - cover them with cold water. Then bring them to boil and let them simmer for around 20 minutes. If you can stick a knife in them without problems they are done.

Drain the water and put them back on low heat so all the water evaporates (less water better taste!). In the mean time heat up some cream and butter in a saucepan at a low temperature. Now comes the fun part; the mashing. Use a food mill or a potato ricer. Avoid using electrical mixers, since they will over-mix the taters and break the starch molecules. The starch is what that gives the dish its wonderful texture. Mix them to a nice and lumpy mixture.

Stir in your butter and cream into the bowl. The following stage requires your imagination. To finish this mashed potatoes recipe you an add anything that suits your palate into the mash. It could be chives, parsley, cheese or leeks. Your imagination is the limit. You can also find plenty of recipes that will help you turn your basic mashed potatoes into something else.

Potatoes are great for your health since they improve glucose tolerance and protect against colon cancer.

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