Well, perhaps not “everything” — but these are my most prized and frequently used recipes for mashed potatoes, my gravy for ladling on top of mashed potatoes, my herbed mashed potatoes, and my cheesy bacon and herbed mashed potato casserole. As you will see, one recipe actually leads to the next.
Mashed potatoes in which the skin is left on are referred to as “dirty” mashed potatoes. However, this isn’t because they contain dirt (provided properly cleaned of course) but due to the bits of skin scattered throughout.
For the fluffiest, best textured and richest flavored mashed potatoes, I highly recommend using either Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes.
For dirty mashed potatoes, I recommend using Yukon Gold potatoes due to the more tender skin texture. Sometimes the skins on Russet potatoes can be a bit chewier or even be tough and leathery.
Red potatoes can sometimes result in a much pastier, stickier texture when mashed. I presume this is because they possibly have a higher starch content, or perhaps it is simply because they frequently require more mashing thus releasing more starch. I haven’t actually researched to see if there is any significant difference in the actual total starch content or not between different varieties.
However, I do know that the more potatoes of any kind are processed, the more starch is released and the less fluffy the mashed potatoes will turn out. This is why I recommend potatoes be mashed by hand using a potato masher rather than using a food processor.
I also do not recommend using an electric hand mixer until after the potatoes are mashed and the other ingredients added — then only blend until incorporated and smooth. Do not over mix.
For safely preparing potatoes for use in any kind of cooking:
Mashed potatoes can be smooth and creamy or they can be lumpy if desired.
TIP: If lumpier mashed potatoes are desired, to ensure ingredients are well incorporated without having the potatoes becoming too smooth in the process, reserve most of the boiled potatoes to add afterwards, creaming just a few potatoes together with other ingredients first.
Tam’s Mashed Potatoes
Yield: Approximately 6 servings
2 pounds potatoes, Russet or Yukon Gold, peeled, (or leave the skin on if prefer “dirty” mashed potatoes)
1/4 cup butter , room temperature
2 cups broth or more if needed to have enough to cover potatoes (may use water if not making gravy)
1/2 – 3/4 cups room temperature evaporated milk (or use slightly warmed milk, soy or almond milk substitutes, cream or half and half)
1/4 cup sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
Boil potatoes covered in water or broth until tender.
Place in large mixing bowl, add butter, and mash with potato masher until melted.
Add milk a little at a time and continue to mash potatoes to the desired consistency (lumpy or smooth).
Season to taste.
Blend or stir in remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
Use the broth to make gravy for the mashed potatoes.
Tam’s Gravy for Mashed Potatoes
3 to 6 Tbsp fat drippings (from any type of roasted meat) or 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 to 3 cups broth
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup water, lukewarm from hot tap
2 Tbsp. Lee & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. to 1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup evaporated milk or cream
Bring the fat drippings or butter, Worcestershire sauce, and broth to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk cornstarch into lukewarm water until smooth.
Strain out any remaining lumps if necessary using a wire mesh strainer BEFORE adding to broth to make gravy.
This will prevent any risk of having to strain the larger quantity of boiling hot gravy later which is much thicker, messier, more difficult, and takes longer to strain.
Whisk smooth corn starch mixture into the broth.
Reduce the heat to maintain a low, slow, but steady simmering bubble. Stir slowly but continuously with whisk and whisk vigorously occasionally for at least 1 minute to reduce the corn starch taste before then taste testing to adjust seasonings.
Taste test and if desired season with additional Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, sage, parsley, onion powder, and/or garlic powder to taste and whisk vigorously. Simmer 30 to 60 seconds to incorporate flavors well before taste testing again.
If prefer a much thicker consistency, whisk an additional 1 Tbsp. cornstarch into 1/8 cup water, strain if required, then whisk into gravy. If prefer thinner gravy, whisk in broth a little at time until desired consistency is reached.
When desired consistency is reached, whisk in evaporated milk or cream. Simmer 30 seconds to 1 minute more.
Tam’s Herbed Mashed Potatoes
To make herbed mashed potatoes:
Make mashed potatoes as directed above.
In large mixing bowl, mash boiled potatoes with the following herbs:
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried (or 1 Tbsp. fresh) basil
1/2 tsp. ground tarragon
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, finely ground; pulse in coffee grinder or food processor if required
Serve herbed mashed potatoes — or set mashed potatoes aside at room temperature, do not refrigerate, and continue as directed below if using to make casserole.
If mashed potatoes were already made ahead, for best results — remove from refrigerator, allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, mix with herbs below, then heat well in microwave, stir well, then set aside at room temperature, and continue as directed.
Tam’s Cheesy Bacon & Herb Mashed Potato Casserole
Make enough herbed mashed potatoes for 13 x 9 or larger casserole dish.
To make homemade bacon and herb topping for casserole:
Fry several slices (6 to 12 slices) of bacon crispy. Drain, cool, then crumble.
Saute 1/2 cup finely diced onion, 3 finely minced or crushed garlic cloves, 1/8 cup fresh chopped parsley, 1/4 tsp. chili powder, and 1/8 tsp. cumin in a skillet that has been preheated with 1 to 2 Tbsp. choice of bacon grease, unsalted butter, or olive oil. Saute until onions are translucent. Then, stir in the bacon crumbles and remove skillet from heat. If too wet or oily, drain mixture on thick layer of paper towels.
To assemble casserole:
Generously butter a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Spread herbed mashed potatoes evenly into the dish leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch space for toppings. Top first with shredded Swiss cheese then with shredded sharp cheddar.
Top with onion bacon herb mixture. Sprinkle over top with a dusting of 1/2 to 1 tsp. paprika.
Bake in preheated 350 F degree, covered, oven for 25 minutes. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes more or just until heated through, cheeses melted, and top slightly browned.
Rest uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
If you wish to make a vegan or vegetarian potato casserole there are substitutes that can be used for the bacon herb topping. (See below)
Those that wish can also use those substitutes along with a boxed dried flakes prepackaged mashed potato mix.
Homemade is always better than highly processed prepackaged bacon and herb blends (or anything else that is prepackaged and highly processed).
If choose to use a prepackaged blend, read labels carefully and know what you are getting and putting into your body.
Here is a comparison of two such products:
For vegetarian/vegan version (supposedly), or to save time and effort, may also use one or two packets of McCormick’s Potato Toppers® (1.25 ounce packets) which are made with artificially flavored soy based bacon bits and already have added dried onion and herbs in place of the homemade bacon and herb topping. It is an okay tasting substitute for the homemade version.
However, it does contain artificial additives (binders, preservatives, colors, flavors and flavor enhancers).
It contains 190 mg sodium per 0.29 ounces or 8 grams (or approximately 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons).
Those who are on vegetarian and vegan diets should also know that some artificial ingredients may be derived from either plant or animal sources so there is no absolute guarantee that any foods containing artificial additives are truly and completely free of animal products — unless the label specifically states that it is “certified vegan” in which case such additives if any will usually name the specific plant source.
Onion, potato, Soy Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed and Soybean Oils, Salt, Parsley, Dried Yeast, Potato Flour, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Chives, Paprika, Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten, Soy Protein, and Wheat Gluten, Garlic, Caramel Color, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate (Flavor Enhancers), Autolyzed Yeast, and FD&C Red 3.
For more detailed information:
Concord Foods also have a potato topper blend — without any artificial additives — but it contains butter fats (or milk by-products) so this may not be an option for some vegetarians or for vegans.
They do not list exactly what it is that is referred to only as “natural” flavorings.
Furthermore, the FDA has still not yet (as of this posting) defined the term “natural” — although it has been on their honey-do list for years — for more about this see the following links:
This is also a decent substitute in regards to taste and better than McCormick’s as far as artificial additives.
I actually use this one myself as one of my rare “cheats” if having a really bad day and physically unable to tolerate long periods in the kitchen.
It also has only 115 mg sodium per tablespoon (3 teaspoons).
For a list of the ingredients and other information:
Mashed potato mixes also vary greatly in artificial additives.
It always pays to read labels, to research and know exactly what it is that you are truly getting and putting into your body, and to compare various products!