The Grandma-Approved Trick to the Smoothest, Creamiest Mashed Potatoes
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My paternal grandmother was a quintessential grandma. She was soft-spoken, enjoyed puttering around in her garden, loved all animals and could cook like nobody’s business.
I loved visiting her because she would welcome me into her kitchen and we’d make breakfast side-by-side (we both loved extra-crispy bacon) and crank out pan after pan of Christmas cookies. She made perfect chocolate pudding and an excellent sour cream chocolate cake, but her mashed potatoes were next-level.
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They were creamy and smooth and just rich enough. I’d slice off a sliver of butter to melt on top of the pile on my plate and then dig in. Perfection! As the years went by I began to wonder what her trick was. I’d had plenty of mashed potatoes, but hers were far superior. When I asked, she gave all the credit to a tool she’d had for years and years: a metal potato ricer with a red wooden handle.
The small metal basket was studded with holes and she’d load cooked potato pieces right into the hopper, squeeze the handle and the potato would squirt out the holes. When I was a kid, it reminded me of those Play-Doh toys. The idea that making mashed potatoes could be delicious and fun was a thrilling revelation.
Years later, a potato ricer is still a go-to tool in my kitchen and I’ve also influenced my husband, who is a fellow mashed potato enthusiast. He did some Amazon research and found the top-rated potato ricer, which is what we use in our kitchen. At around $25, it’s a small price to pay for perfect mashed potatoes.
Not convinced that you need a potato ricer in your life? On behalf of Grandma Elder and me, allow me to make my case.
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Why You Need a Potato Ricer
1. It’s the easiest way to make silky smooth mashed potatoes. There’s a time and place for rustic, skin-on smashed potatoes, but for me, that time is not Thanksgiving. For my Thanksgiving table, I want smooth, silky mashed potatoes. And a potato ricer is the best way to get that done. The potatoes that emerge from the ricer look like, well, rice (hence the name), and extruding the cooked veggie helps make your spuds extra light. The fluffy pile of potatoes needs very little stirring to come together, which ensures they won’t be overworked, which can make your spuds sticky and gluey.
2. It’s for more than just potatoes. Worried about another single-use gadget? You can press other root vegetables, like sweet potatoes and parsnips, through the gadget to make easy purees. It’s also a great tool for wringing the water out of cooked spinach, which is a pain to do by hand. You can also pass potatoes through a ricer to make light and fluffy gnocchi and some online commenters report pressing cooked apples through a ricer to make applesauce. Some models, like the one I have, come with several interchangeable discs, which can be handy when making something like spaetzle, the squiggly German noodles.
3. It’s fun. Even though I love to cook, it’s not always fun. There’s something very satisfying about pushing potatoes through a ricer. And we all need a little more joy in our lives, right?
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How to Use a Potato Ricer
It’s a super easy process, but a few tips and tricks will help you get it right every time.
1. Choose your potato adventure. I usually peel and cube my potatoes, but you can also rice cooked skin-on potatoes. Some cooks think skin-on potatoes have more flavor than peeled ones. You do you. You can also bake a potato, cut it into pieces and press it in the ricer. Experiment a bit to see which method you prefer, and keep in mind that the style of potato might change based on what you’re making or your mood.
2. Load it up. Put your hot potatoes in the hopper of the ricer. It’s important to do this while the potatoes are hot because steamy spud will be fluffier as they’re pressed through the holes. Cold potatoes can come out of the ricer gluey.
3. Give it a squeeze. Hold the ricer over a large bowl and squeeze the handles together. The plunger will force the potatoes through the holes and into the bowl.
4. Add your flavorings. Once you’ve riced all of your potatoes, it’s time to add the rest of your goodies. For mashed potatoes, I add in warm cream and room temperature (or sometimes chilled) butter. The warm cream incorporates into the potatoes easily. Melted butter can make the potatoes greasy, so room temp or chilled butter is a better bet because it will melt more gradually and smoothly into the spuds.
5. Give it a stir. You shouldn’t have to do much here. Just a few turns around the bowl should give you a silky smooth mash.
6. Clean it quickly. All of those holes in the potato ricer make it great at its job, but they also can hold onto lots of potato particles. You know how gross a box grater or garlic press can get if you don’t clean it quickly? It’s the same idea here. To prevent that, wash your ricer before the veggie residue dries. You can also give it a quick rinse and then come back later for a proper wash.
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