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The Mashed Potato: A Chef Survey

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Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge NICHOLAS DYNAN, WBUR RADIO
  • Nicholas Dynan, WBUR Radio

Chances are, this is how Thanksgiving Day is going to look if you're cooking dinner: You're going to make sure you have a defrosted turkey on hand, get some pies in the oven, and then tackle a sack of potatoes. According to the USDA, the average American consumes more than 120 pounds of potatoes annually, and many of them end up in mashed form. Even with heirloom or organic tubers, the opportunities to enhance the flavor and texture of mashed potatoes are seemingly endless.

This year, we talked to 6 Los Angeles chefs to get their take on what type of potato to use, how to cook the potatoes, to peel or not to peel, how to mash the cooked spuds and which dairy products to add. Something to keep in mind as you do your market shopping and set a pot of water on the stove to boil. Turn the page...

1. Neal Fraser, Executive Chef/Owner at BLD and the forthcoming Grace.

1. Type of potato to use: Yukon Gold

2. Peeled or not: Jackets on.

3. Boil, bake or steam: Simmer till tender is salted water.

4. Mash, ricer or food mill: Cool slightly, peel and the put through a food mill.

5. Cream, milk, butter or cheese? Simmer butter and cream with kosher salt. Fold this into the potatoes with a rubber spatula. Not a whisk.

6: Anything else: Use immediately or cover with parchment and cool in the fridge in a shallow pan. To re-heat: stir in touch of cream and bring back up to temperature in a sauce pot over a low flame.

2. Jason Travi, Corporate Chef at Mesa.

1. Type of potato to use: Yukon Gold

2. Peeled or not: Peeled and quartered

3. Boil, bake or steam: Simmer slowly in salted water.

4. Mash, ricer or food mill: Pass through a ricer, then through a tami.

5. Cream, milk, butter or cheese? Finish with heavy cream and butter.

6: Anything else: The most important thing is to cook them slowly so that they don't get mushy on the outside while staying crunchy on the inside. Also, cook them just until they are fork tender or else the puree will have no texture. It's a sin to over-cook potatoes.

3. Marcel Vigneron, former chef of Bar210; appearing on Top Chef All-Stars December 1st.

1. Type of potato to use: Russet or Le Ratte 0157

2. Peeled or not: Peeled

3. Boil, bake or steam: Boiled

4. Mash, ricer or food mill: Food mill

5. Cream, milk, butter or cheese? Cream and butter.

6: Anything else: Nutmeg.

4. Ray Garcia, Executive Chef at Fig.

1. Type of potato to use: Yukon Gold

2. Peeled or not: Peel after cooking.

3. Boil, bake or steam: Boil.

4. Mash, ricer or food mill: Food mill.

5. Cream, milk, butter or cheese? Butter and milk

6: Anything else: Nope!

5. Lisa and Michelle Fielding, Chefs/Owners The Secret Table.

1. Type of potato to use: White Rose

2. Peeled or not: Peeled and cubed

3. Boil, bake or steam: Boiled until cooked but not falling apart. Well drained.

4. Mash, ricer or food mill: We process ours through a Moulinex Food Mill that we refer to fondly as the Mouli...

5. Cream, milk, butter or cheese? Cubes of butter are melted with lots of cream. When warm and bubbly, we softly combine the processed potatoes into this rich bath.

6: Anything else: Finish off with lots of salt and some white pepper.

6. Michael Voltaggio, (forthcoming) Executive Chef/Owner Ink.

1. Type of potato to use: La Ratte

2. Peeled or not: Cooked in skins, then push through a handheld potato ricer (which removes the skin)

3. Boil, bake or steam: Boil

4. Mash, ricer or food mill: Old school: hand-held ricer

5. Cream, milk, butter or cheese? Little bit of cream, and butter. Add with a whisk (as if making a beurre blanc sauce)

6: Anything else: MV likes his mashed potatoes infused with homemade seaweed butter & served with fish

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