Mashed potatoes are a simple classic of European of the tradition. Whether making a basic version for the cockney classic pie and mash, or incorporating into the cooking of a more complex dish such as shepherds cottage pie or fish pie, following a few rules will give superior results.
Making a Basic Mash
Making a good mash starts with the selection of the right kind of potato. In general potatoes fall into two categories, waxy and floury. In order to make a good mash the cook should select a potato from the floury group, good varieties include Maris Piper, King Edwards, Rooster Potatoes also make a flavoursome addition in the red skinned category.
Start by peeling the potatoes, all of the skin should be removed although potatoes should be peeled at minimal depth to maintain as much of the nutrient of the potato as possible. Potato should then be cut into chucks and boiled. When boiling the potatoes should be cooked until soft, however overcooking is to be avoided as this will give the mash a sloppy consistency as well as taking away much of the nutrient in the potatoes.
Once boiled drain the potatoes, add milk and a knob of butter and mash using a potato masher. Milk should be added at a rate of 50ml per 400 grams of potatoes, butter is added to help the mash to fuse, a dash of olive oil may be used in its place if one wishes to avoid using butter. Once mashed the basic mash can be served on its own or used as a base for a more advanced version.
Alternative Takes on Mashed Potatoes From Apple to Garlic
Apple mash – The addition of fruit to a basic mashed potato was inspired by a visit to Blackfriars restaurant in Newcastle Upon Tyne a number of years back and makes an interesting and contemporary take on the classic. In order to make apple mash select a strong cooking apple such as the Bramley, apples with a more subtle flavour will lose their taste in cooking and are unsuitable. The apples should be peeled and cut into chunks, follow the instructions for making the basic mash, however in the last three minutes of boiling add the apples chunks. The key to a good apple mash is not too over cook the apples, which will kill the flavour.
Colcannon – Colcannon is an Irish take on the classic mash and incorporates either kale or cabbage into a fired version. Start by making the basic mash and chopping up a quantity of either kale or cabbage. Heat up a large frying pan using either butter or dripping and then add the mash to the pan. The kale or cabbage should then be folded into the mash and the whole mixture fried until a golden brown colour is achieved and the vegetables cooked soft.
Aligot, French Mashed Potatoes – This is a French take on mashed potatoes and comes from the Auvergne region. To make Aligot prepare and boil 1kg of potatoes as the basic method, however this time substitutes the milk for cream at a rate of 120ml per 1kg of potatoes and use 60g of unsalted butter. Once this version of the mashed potatoes has been made add two large cloves of crushed garlic (Here are some great garlic presses for you!) and 300 grams of sliced tomme de cantal cheese and stir vigorously. Aligot should be served and eaten as soon as it is made and does not stand up well to storage.
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