Master this side dish staple

Mashed potatoes are the perfect side dish, capable of being paired with meats, poultry and fish. Few meals wouldn’t benefit from the addition of creamy mashed potatoes.

Some food historians say that the original recipe for mashed potatoes originated in 1771, when a Frenchman named Antoine Parmentier hosted a competition on ways to prepare potatoes. Others say that mashed potatoes surely were born in Great Britain in the 1600s, as potatoes were a staple of the English diet at that time. Regardless of the origin of mashed potatoes, a solid understanding of how to perfect this beloved side dish is a great way to impress family members and guests. This recipe for “Easiest, Creamiest Mashed Potatoes” from “Simple Soirées: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) by Peggy Knickerbocker is one every mashed potato lover will fall in love with.

Easiest, Creamiest Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6

6 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup whole milk or cream (or half-and-half)

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with salted cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain.

Meanwhile in a small pot, warm the butter and milk over medium-low heat.

Place the potatoes in a large bowl and mash them with a potato masher, adding a little of the warm milk-and-butter mixture as you go. Continue to mash until the lumps are gone. Add just enough of the milk mixture to get a creamy consistency. Then whip the potatoes with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can make the potatoes a little ahead of time and keep them warm in a low oven, well covered, until ready to serve.

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