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The Best Mashed Potatoes Ever

Amanda Haas
With a claim like this, I have to be serious.  Melissa Brannan, formerly a test cook at Williams Sonoma and now a badass independent chef back home in Louisiana, Melissa made a version of these mashed potatoes for our test kitchen team years ago and we all flipped out. To this day, they’re the only mashed potatoes I make for Thanksgiving.  I did take the liberty of lightening them up just a little—forgive me for using half-and-half instead of heavy cream, Melissa—and I also swapped out a few of the herbs and spices she recommends.  (I have something against bay leaves and I don’t know what it is, but it didn’t make the cut in my version.)  I don’t mind mashing my potatoes with a hand-held masher, but nothing beats a ricer for lump-free potatoes.  I’ve had my ricer for 25 years and I use it once a year, but it’s worth it. 😉
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins

Equipment

  • Pot: 8-12 qt. stock pot or Dutch oven

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and skins removed
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 10 chive stems
  • 4 1/2 lbs Russet Potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for topping if desired
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions
 

  • Place the half-and-half in a medium saucepan along with the garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary, and chive stems.  Bring the half-and-half to a simmer, then turn down until it is barely simmering and is reduced by 1/2 cup, about 8-10 minutes.  
  • Strain the half-and-half through a sieve, discarding the herbs and garlic.  Set the warm half-and-half aside. 
  • Peel the potatoes and dice them into 2-inch pieces.  Place the diced potatoes in a pot of cold water with a tablespoon of salt.  Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes can gently be pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. 
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander, shaking off any excess water, then place them back in the pan over low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, to dry out the bottom of the pan for a minute, then place the potatoes in a large bowl.  (If you’d like, you can wash the pot and dry it and rice the potatoes back into this pot.)
  • Rice the potatoes in batches into the pot.  Alternatively, mash the potatoes in the pot until most of the lumps are gone. (Note: Do not place the potatoes in a food processor or stand mixer to puree.  They will become gluey and sticky.) 
  • Once all of the potatoes are mashed, pour in the cream and a tablespoon of salt and stir gently.  Add the butter and stir until melted.  Taste, adding more seasoning or butter if desired. 
  • Serve immediately, or cover and allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight.  To reheat, place the potatoes over very low heat on the cooktop and add 2 tablespoons of half-and-half and 2 tablespoons of butter.  As they begin to reheat, slowly stir them to incorporate the other ingredients, being careful not to overwork them.
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