A personal chef’s tips and tricks for perfect thanksgiving mashed potatoes!


As a personal chef, I think I must have made classic mashed potatoes literally thousands of times!  Seeing that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought it would be an ideal time to share my mashed potato secrets!

First and foremost, is the potato itself! To my way of thinking, it must be a russet potato. Another name for russet is baking potato; sometimes called Idaho potatoes. While it may be true that you can use another potato, such as Yukon Gold,  none have the right texture that the baking potato has. That is to say, a floury, light fluffy texture. Balanced against more waxy varieties, such as Yukon golds, or red skinned potatoes, I will opt for the russet every time!

Now that you have the right kind of potatoes, the next step cooking them.  Most importantly, cook them in liberally salted water, after you have peeled and diced them. As long as we’re on the subject of salt, I should mention that salt is one of the most important elements of great mashed potatoes. While it may be true that most blogs and the Food Network would have you beleive that kosher salt is the way to go, I opt for sea salt. The reason for this, is I like the subtle flavor of sea salt; compared to table salt, which has a harsh chemical taste. To that end, I’m not a big fan of pinching my fingers into an open container of salt either. 

So, after you have cooked the potatoes in the simmering salted water, until just fork tender. What this means is, simply pierce them with a fork and see if the tines easily go through. You don’t want them waterlogged and falling apart, so test earlier than you think you need to. 

The next step is to drain them very thouroughly. I like to put them back in the stockpot over a low flame for a few seconds, shaking the pot, so some of the water evaporates from the potatoes.

Now that your potatoes are cooked, it’s time to mash them.  To my mind, this is the most important step; you need a ricer! Nothing will give you the smooth fluffy texture that a ricer will give. For example, if you use a hand mixer, or god forbid  a food processor, your potatoes will be gluey. These are the tips that I love to share from all of my years as a personal chef! 

Have lots of room temperature unsalted butter on hand, as well as room temperature cream cheese. Put some whole milk (and cream if you like) into the stockpot (it’s not necessary to dirty another pot!) and warm it.  

After you have riced the potatoes, put in much more butter than a reasonable person would use. This is Thanksgiving, it’s no time to skimp or watch calories, if you ask me. 

For example, for 5 pounds of potatoes, I would use two sticks of butter, minimum. Also a block of cream cheese, and only enough warm milk/cream to make it the right texture. My advice is to take it easy and go slow while you are stirring the milk in; it can go from perfect to too runny in no time flat! Sprinkle more sea salt than you are accostomed to using, too! Potatoes need a lot more salt than other foods do.

So there you have it. To summarize: russett potatoes. Cook them in salted water. Drain thoroughly. Rice them. Add tons of unsalted butter, cream cheese and warm milk or cream and plenty of sea salt! These are the perfect Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes! If I keep giving tips like this, you won’t even need a personal chef!