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How To Ruin Mashed Potatoes

Master mashed potato makers highlight frequent mistakes.
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By Jasmin Sun, Food & Wine

At New York's Minetta Tavern, co-chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr nearly upstage their exceptional steaks with an arsenal of perfectly cooked potatoes -- either fried, mashed with cream and butter or simply roasted. Here, they explain how to master mashed potatoes at home by identifying and troubleshooting the most common mistakes.

1. Using cold butter and cream. Having your butter and cream at room temperature or warmer helps them absorb more easily into hot potatoes.

2. Over-blending. Using all warm ingredients means you shouldn't have to overwork the mixture, which can make the potatoes gluey. "You have to treat your mashed potatoes like a mousse: Avoid whipping it too much when you add the butter and cream," says Hanson.

3. Mashing with a fork. For a creamy result, stick with food mills or potato ricers, which act like a press, pushing the cooked potato through tiny holes. "Mashed potatoes should be smooth, buttery and hot, almost like a puree," says Hanson. "I completely disagree with people who like chunky mashed potatoes. They may say that it's 'rustic,' but I don't get it."