Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Perfect Mash Potatoes

I have been cooking shepherd’s pie for years and seem to come down in everyone as a good meal; until one day this is not the case anymore.  One evening, during dinner my son commented: “Why can’t you cook like the school’s shepherd’s pie?” With an open mind that my recipe could be improved,  I asked a lot of questions to know what is good about the school recipe; and it is about they have a better mashed.

True enough my mash is a hit and missed.  One Sunday, we had a roast lunch in the pub that comes with mash potatoes. The mash alone was full of  flavor with creamy but solid texture. "If they can cook mash like this, I am sure I can." This was my statement, which marked the start of a challenge called for serving the homemade perfect mash. Why am I so keen about a perfect mash? Mash is a versatile food that can be serve with so many different grilled meat, casserole or as toppings for pie like shepherd's pie or fish pie. It is healthy if served in the right amount.

After reading so many recipe in the web from different sites, I had come up with my very own one. It had created what I think the perfect mash for us. To cook the mash, I have to cook the liquid mix separate, and then apply it to the crumbling boiled potato little by little as I mash. The taste off course is from the liquid mix, the texture is from the potato.

In my research I learned that there are different potatoes. There are potatoes best for roasting and baking; and there is this powdery texture that I highly recommend for mash.  It takes some time to know if a potato is this sort. From my observation, this kind normally comes as more yellow or soil clings more on its skin. When buying potatoes in 2.5 kilos from shops Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Asda or Waitrose, the bags sometimes indicates “for mash”, otherwise for “roasting or baking”.

  • Peel 2.5 kilos of potato, chopped into one inch big. Soak it as you chopped.  Wash it and soak it with boiled water at least a centimeter above all the potatoes. Simmer it to soften (almost crumbling) on the biggest ring of your cooker.  Remember to give it a stir to evenly cook all the potatoes.

For the flavoring, you will need...

  • 100 to 200 ml of full cream milk 
  • 100 to 150 grams of salted butter 
  • Salt to add as you cook it.
  • Fine chopped garlic - the amount depends how much you like garlic.
  • 2 chicken cubes, or very strong savory flavored broth that suits your taste.
  • You can add fine chopped dried parsley, mixed herbs or “herbs provencial” not as much as I recommend the rest of the ingredients.  It can overwhelm the mash. But I do recommend to add some for it the purpose of what I discovered.  The herbs helps me to know the part of mash that do not have any liquid flavorings. With it I am able to make sure mash and the flavoring is well mixed.

Mixed all and stir on a simmering heat until all the ingredients are well blended.  Cook it until the milk curdle;  the more oily it looks creates a better texture on the mash. Taste it and add salt as required.
When potatoes are cooked to a crumbling stage, drain it well.  Gradually add the flavoring to the potato while gradually mashing it to its desired texture.

I apologize if I cannot give the exact measurement of the ingredients for flavoring.  This is all depends on how you like your mash to taste.  If your flavoring ends stronger like more salty, do not worry, for this is ideal to flavor at least 2 kilos of mash.

You can add other ingredients you think it will get your mash to taste the way you like.  My suggestion is avoid to add any ingredient that can be sweet like onion.  This will make you add more salt.  Don’t add cheese either. Cheese can make the texture rubbery if cooked too much.

I just cooked a shepherd’s pie.  Off course I have my mash on top of the sauteed mince beef and leek.  I put grated mature cheddar cheese and ground pepper on top before putting it into the oven for 180 C for 25 minutes.

I am supposed to post this with picture of my shepherd’s pie to show the versatility of mash potatoes.  I will add to it later when I manage to take a photo before my husband gets to it.  For the meantime, here is my mash potato serve with "toad in a hole" - a very nice winter meal. My son loves it serve with gravy.

Tip: For nice and easy gravy, use Bisto granules, the chicken flavor.  If serving to very young children, I suggest to use kalo cubes or other chicken cube with no artificial flavouring or no msg.

Have a fun creating your perfect mash potatoes!

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