Few dishes are more comforting than a bowl of mashed potatoes and I know that some cooks are not always happy with their efforts.

Ingredients

There are a few simple rules to follow for that bowl of perfect fluffy and smooth potatoes. I buy local potatoes with the earth still on rather than the prewashed ones as I find the flavour far superior.

Scrubbing them clean seems like a small sacrifice for the improved taste. Peel and mash the piping hot potatoes immediately they are cooked and always make sure the milk that you add is boiling. Keeping everything really hot is the key to fluffiness rather than a sticky result.

Passing the hot peeled cooked potatoes through a vegetable mouli, or mouli-legumes as it is sometimes called, undoubtedly improves the texture but an old fashioned hand masher also works well. Use a floury variety of potato such as a Golden Wonder of Kerr Pink and definitely do not try to make mashed potatoes with new potatoes as they will be gluey and dull.

I serve these with Mackerel Fish Cakes and Spiced Tomato Oil, Rustic Chicken Tart or Buttered Chicken with Wild Garlic and Lemon. 

Serves 4

  • 900g Potatoes
  • 120ml milk approx
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 egg, optional
  • Salt & pepper
  • 50g butter 

Method

  1. Scrub the potatoes really well. Cover with cold water and salt generously. Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. The variety of potato and the time of year will determine how careful you will need to be when cooking the potatoes. The more floury the potatoes are, the more they are likely to split in the cooking, hence the more you need to steam them.
  2. In that case pour off most of the water after about ten minutes cooking, just leaving 2 cm of water to steam the potatoes for the remaining time which takes about a further 20 minutes. The potatoes need to be completely tender.
  3.  When the potatoes are nearly cooked, put the milk and saffron on to boil.
  4.  Immediately the potatoes are cooked, peel them and pass through a vegetable mouli if you wish. This will give a smoother consistency to the finished dish.
  5. If you don't have a mouli, use an old fashioned hand masher. It is essential however to deal with the potatoes the minute they are cooked as if they are allowed to cool at all before mashing, they may become gluey. 
  6. If your milk has gone off the boil, bring it back to a boil and add the boiling milk slowly. It may not take all of the milk, so be careful not to make soup but do scrape all of the saffron into the potatoes.
  7. Beat the potatoes vigorously with a wooden spoon or in a food mixer and add the butter, the egg if using, and season well with salt and pepper.  
  8. Beat again and taste and correct seasoning.
  9. Serve the potatoes steaming hot.