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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rich, Rustic Mashed Potatoes...Thanksgiving and Family

Finally sharing what I used to refer to as my heart attack mashed potatoes...just in time for Thanksgiving!  They are the epitome of classic, rich mashed potatoes.  While yummy and creamy (but not soupy), they have a real potato taste!  I insist on using Idaho potatoes for this recipe; but my secret for these decadent, rustic mashed potatoes is the type of milk I use.

I call this milk the poor man's rich's so inexpensive.  As I've told my daughter, this milk should always be on keeps in your pantry until you open it.  It's a great substitute in any baking recipe that calls for whole milk...just mix half water to half of this milk to achieve the equivalent amount of whole milk you need.  If you like, you can use it as a cream in your coffee.  It has so many'll find it in many of my recipes.  You can even make ice cream with it!  So what is it's evaporated milk!

If you haven't kept evaporated milk as a staple in your pantry before, have I convinced you that you's great in emergencies!  By the way, don't bother buying the light evaporated's just watered down, and you can do that yourself!  Good grief, I didn't mean to make this post a tribute to evaporated milk!

Back to the mashed potatoes...even with our beloved and traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Nut Topping, our crowd would miss these...

                       Gotta-Have Mashed Potatoes on Thanksgiving...
                                               A Time To Indulge!

Approximately 6/ea. 2/3 c. servings

  • 3 large Idaho potatoes (a little over 2 lbs.)
  • approx. 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. table salt (or to taste), plus about 3/4 tsp. for water to boil the potatoes
  • approx. 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) salted butter (cut into about tablespoon-size cubes)
  • about 2 TB evaporated milk (or as needed to achieve desired consistency) Don't use any other milk or cream...this makes the recipe! (But, I think I explained that.)

  • 1 TB butter
  • sprinkle of paprika
  • fresh parsley sprig

  1. Scrub and peel the potatoes completely or partially, or don't peel at all.  (My daughter prefers a little peel left on the potatoes, as I used in the potatoes pictured above.)  Remove any bad spots and cut the potatoes into eighths, or 2" uniformly as possible so the potatoes will cook evenly.  (Avoid cutting the pieces too small, or the potatoes may absorb too much water while cooking...I believe I learned that from my brother-in-law many years ago.)
  2. Place the potatoes into a sauce pot and cover them with cold (about 6 c.) water.  Sprinkle about 3/4 tsp. salt into the pot.
  3. Bring the potatoes to a boil over medium-high heat and cover with a lid.   Boil the potatoes approximately 20 minutes (check after 15 minutes), or until a fork inserted into a couple of potatoes goes in and out easily and the potatoes are tender without being soupy or mushy...don't overcook!  Stir frequently with a wooden spoon to keep the potatoes from settling onto the bottom of the pan.
  4. Drain the potatoes don't want water-logged potatoes!
  5. Place the potatoes back into the sauce pot and immediately sprinkle with the salt and pepper (the seasoning is better absorbed at this point).  Mash* the cut-up butter into the potatoes. 
  6. Mash in the evaporated milk, adding a teeny bit more at a time if necessary to achieve a good consistency without being, here again, soupy or mushy.
  7. Pile the potatoes high into a bowl and garnish as suggested above:  Make a slight indentation in the center and add about a tablespoon of butter...let the butter melt and drizzle down the potatoes.  For color, sprinkle lightly with paprika and add a parsley sprig on the side of the potatoes.  Serve immediately while warm.*  

Potato Mashers:  *I prefer a smooth potato masher similar to OXO's #34581...not trying to sell this particular masher...I just couldn't find a consistent description of the type of masher I use.  Also, I prefer using a masher to using a mixer; and some people even like a little surprise lump here or there in their mashed potatoes.  These potatoes should have body, but shouldn't be stiff either...definitely not soupy or mushy (did I say that already?).

If it's not possible to serve the potatoes immediately:  Before you dish the potatoes into a bowl, you can use a double boiler to keep them warm on low heat for a little while on the stove top.  Just keep the potatoes in the sauce pot before you garnish them.  Then create a double boiler by bringing a little water to simmer in a large sauce pan with high sides and wider than the pot with the potatoes.  Place the sauce pot with the potatoes into the simmering water.  Cover the potatoes and stir them frequently, adding a little evaporated milk if necessary.

Leftovers:  Stir some chopped green onion (stems and all) into the mashed potatoes and refrigerate until cold.  Form the mixture into about 2" patties and fry in a little (equal amount of) butter and olive oil.  You'll find these easy potato patties delicious and worthy of making extra mashed potatoes for leftovers!  Update: You can also try my updated recipe for Amazing Potato Cakes.

Suggested Thanksgiving Theme:  Have each person bring a favorite old family photo, not more than 5" x 6", and share why they love it so much.  Place each photo at their place settings!

Never thought I'd have so much to say about mashed potatoes!  Oh, the older girl in the photo is my mother with her dad and her two half sisters (circa early 1930's, in southern California).

Hope your Thanksgiving is as satisfying as these mashed potatoes...they'll be eating them with their eyes before they even sit down!  Enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  1. Bonnie, grandpa always used evaporated milk in his coffee and never thought of using it in my mashed potatoes! Just a good old milk that has lost it's potential, but you just brought it back! Gonna try this on Thursday, thanks! Regina

    1. Hey Regina, my mother and her friends used it in their coffee, and I sometimes do also! Makes mashed potatoes so rich...enjoy and have a Terrific Thanksgiving!

  2. We can't imagine what life would be like without mashed potatoes. Creamy, warm, irresistible mashed potatoes Great idea to use evaporated milk. We use half and half as a rule, but whatever gets you to the creamy goodness is a good thing! We wish you and yours a very happy and warm Thanksgiving!