|This is what mashed potatoes should look like.|
One of the benefits of learning to cook your favorite meals is that you can eat well at home and you don't need to ship your mother cross-country every time you want that favorite dish. I learned to cook passably well by helping my wife make meals. She learned from her grandmother and mine and developed her own dishes to a level of artistic skill I cannot duplicate. I can get in the neighborhood, but have yet to match her. She on the other hand can cook right up to the grandmothers' level and, in some cases beyond.
Her mashed potatoes are legendary. Here are the basic "secret ingredients". Getting the flavor right is a matter of adding a bit here and a bit there until the taste is right.
WARNING: These are not diet taters. They are a treat for Sunday or Sabbath dinner and holidays. Eat these too often and you'll find yourself weighing 300 pounds and coping with bad knees. You have been warned.
- Potatoes (russets work, but red-skinned potatoes are by far the most delicious)
- Potato flakes
- Small can evaporated milk
- Cream Cheese
- Butter or margarine
- Garlic powder
- Sugar or Splenda
- Large pot or boiler (as its apparently called in Louisiana
- Mixing bowl
- Mixer (preferably an industrial sized Kitchen-aid, but a hand mixer will do)
- Assorted spoons
- Boil the potatoes. I cut them up some so they'll cook faster. Depending on your taste, you can leave the skins on, especially with the thin skinned red potatoes. They're more nutritious that way, though the final product isn't the usual pristine white most are used to. Go ahead and peel them if you are concerned about presentation. Avoid the Yukon gold potato variety. They do not mash well, though they make a nice potato salad.
- Place potatoes in mixing bowl with 1/2 to 1 cup of the water they boiled in. Mash the potatoes with the mixer. They'll wind up a little soupy, but that's what the potato flakes are for.
- Add butter, cream cheese and a small can of evaporated milk and and mix it all in. I cut up the cream cheese and butter first and let the hot potatoes melt them before adding the milk.The butter is guesswork, I usually start with a big spoonful and add more in the last step if needed.
- Add Garlic powder, salt and sugar or Splenda to taste. The wife has been adding artificial sweetener for some time in the interest of lowering calories. That still doesn't make it a diet dish, just so you know. This step is the critical one. Achieving that Southern mashed tater flavor is all about the blend of ingredients. You don't need much more than a teaspoonful of the garlic and sugar. Add salt to taste. The mixture will still be a little soupy, but you should be able to taste whether you're getting it right. There should be a light hint of garlic and butter. The cream cheese shouldn't stand out. Somewhere between a block and half a regular foil block of cream cheese works nicely depending on how many potatoes you use to give it a creamy texture.
- As you run the mixer, gradually sprinkle in dried potato flakes until the potatoes thicken. You'll know it's right when the mixer starts to leave swirl marks behind as the bowl rotates.
My son Matt is back in Texas and misses his Mama's cooking. So, at his requested, I posted this to go with my earlier post on Barbecue Tender-Bits as these two dishes and a good salad with maybe some broccoli and my grandmother's homemade rolls make up his favorite meal. The next food post I'll do is my Honeymama's homemade roll recipe. Till then, here's a passable wheat roll recipe you can make in your bread machine that are pretty good till the real thing comes along.
I also posted this recipe because really good mashed potatoes are so seldom seen anymore. I figure if you're going to get fat, it's way better to do it with this kind of food than on two dollar hamburgers. Hamburgers fill your belly. Mama's Mashed Potatoes fill your soul!