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Spud Sunday: Good At Mash

Browned Butter Mash

Brown Butter Potato Mash

Mashed potato is not just about technique, of course. There are endless variations on the ingredients you can include to make a winning mashed potato formula. For example, in my world, mashed potatoes always include butter. However, I was struck by the notion lately that if I browned my butter [1] first, I would end up with a warm, nutty-tasting mash. That’s pretty much what happened.

You’ll need:
  • 800g potatoes (about 4 medium-sized specimens), preferably a floury variety
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed using the blade of a knife
  • a sprig of rosemary, about 5-7cm in length
  • 150g butter
  • 6 tblsps hot milk (or more if you prefer a looser consistency)
  • 3 tblsps pine nuts
  • 1 tsp coarse salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tblsps flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
You’ll also need:
  • A potato ricer is a useful, though not essential, piece of kit here.
The Steps:
  • Peel your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized slices, around 1-2cm thick. Rinse them under cold water.
  • If you like, you can cook the potato slices using the 2-stage method, described below, adding the crushed garlic and rosemary to the water when adding the potato slices and removing them before you start to mash.
  • Alternatively, bring about 1.5l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 2 tsp salt, a sprig of rosemary, the pieces of crushed garlic and the potato slices.
  • Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 15-20 minutes or until just fork-tender. While they’re simmering, you can brown the butter and toast the pine nuts:
  • Place the butter in a small heavy saucepan over a medium heat. Allow to melt and, as the butter starts to foam and bubble, stir continuously for around 6-7 minutes or until it turns a dark golden colour. It will have a butterscotch-like aroma. Strain into a bowl and skim off any foam.
  • Place a small, heavy pan over a medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and dry-fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until they start to turn golden brown. Remove from the pan.
  • When the potatoes are done, drain well, removing the rosemary and garlic, and return them to the saucepan. Then either let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir the potatoes gently for a minute or so while they dry out.
  • Put the cooked and still warm potatoes through a potato ricer, if you have one, or mash with a potato masher or, if all else fails, a fork.
  • Pour in the browned butter, leaving behind any sediment that collected at the bottom of the bowl, and stir through the mash.
  • Add in the hot milk and stir through.
  • Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Stir in the pine nuts and parsley, if using.
  • Grab a spoon and eat.
The Variations:
  • This mash is fairly rich as it is, though you could use some cream instead of milk and make it even richer. I also fancy upping the garlic presence by mashing in a few cloves of roasted garlic.
The Results:
  • Mash for around 4 people

The Steingarten/Corriher 2-Stage Cooking Method For Mash

This is the path to non-gummy mash as derived from the writings of Jeffrey Steingarten & Shirley Corriher. The 2-stage cooking process is, of course, fussier than just boiling or steaming your spuds but if you are plagued by gluey mash, this is worth a try.

You’ll need:
  • potatoes, preferably a floury variety
  • salt
You’ll also need:
  • An instant read thermometer will be your friend for this method, at least the first couple of times through. A potato ricer is also recommended.
The Steps:
  • Peel your potatoes and cut into slices around 1cm thick. Rinse the slices to remove any excess starch.
  • In a saucepan, heat enough water to cover the potato slices. The water should be hot (with some steam rising) but well below a simmer (a temperature of around 79C / 175F).
  • Add in your potato slices and some salt (about 1 tsp for every 750ml or so of water) and reduce the heat to low. The temperature of the water should reduce with the addition of the potatoes to around 71C / 160F.
  • Cook, uncovered, at this temperature for about 20 minutes. You may need to add small amounts of cold water from time to time if the water starts getting too hot.
  • Drain your potatoes and run them under the cold tap until they feel cool to the touch. At this stage you can refrigerate the slices if you’re not ready to use them straight away.
  • When ready to finish cooking, bring some fresh salted water to the boil, drop in the potato slices and bring back to a simmer. Simmer the slices for about 5 minutes or until fork-tender.
  • Drain the potato slices, then return them to the saucepan. You want the potatoes to dry out before you mash them, so either cover the saucepan with a tea-towel and let the potatoes sit for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir the potatoes gently for about a minute.
  • Mash the still-warm potato slices using a potato ricer if you have it or, if not, a food mill or potato masher.
  • If you’re adding butter, mix it in now, so that it gets melted by the warm potato.
  • Now stir in any milk or cream (which should be warmed up before you add it) .
  • Season and add herbs or whatever else takes your fancy.
The Results:
  • Creamy mashed potatoes instead of wallpaper paste.