Friday, March 29, 2013

perfect pomme puree (a.k.a. french mashed potatoes)

Joel Robuchon, the famous French chef, says to make perfect mashed potatoes, you need almost equal parts  potatoes and butter/ milk. And not just any milk, whole milk or half and half. In France, this delicious, fluffy mush is known as pomme puree.
It's important to choose a potato that is firm and can handle being beaten to within an inch of it's life. Russet potatoes are really great and they are readily available.
Because there are just 2 of us, I only use 4 potatoes. 2 for each and enough for leftovers the next day. I usually leave the skins on when I make mashers, but for these perfect mashed potatoes, skins off!
This next tip holds up for pomme puree as well as any variety of mashed potato- start the potatoes in cold water and boil from there. If you start with cold water and bring everything up to temperature together, everything will cook evenly. It's also important to make sure that all the chunks of potato are relatively the same size.
Next tip! Make sure potatoes are completely dry before starting to mash. Nothing makes for a icky-ier mash than diluting it with water. I just toss mine back into the stock pot and use the residual heat to steam it off.
Okay, next tip. Use real butter. Yes, real butter, not margarine. I use a full stick and 1/2 for just 2 potatoes and make sure that it's room temperature and softened. As for the milk, 3/4 of a cup of whole milk that's been heated in a sauce pan almost to boiling. That way you aren't adding cold milk and cold butter to warm potatoes. I add a considerable amount of salt, but it's up to you how much you add. Salt to taste.
Time for a beating. I use a hand mixer because that's the only way to make sure that they are really, really mashed. You can use a hand masher, but unless you want to use every ounce of your arm strength to get the lumps out, I'd just use the mixer. No lumps, no bumps. This needs to be silky smooth. Serve hot. Seriously hot. I don't recommend eating this every day, you know, because of the butter, but it's definetly a tasty treat.
Perfect Pomme Puree (a.k.a. French Mashed Potatoes)
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubed
1 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk
Salt to taste

Place cubed potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil together over medium high heat. Boil until potatoes are fork tender. Meanwhile, heat whole milk in a small sauce pan until just boiling. Drain and transfer back into hot stock pot. Dry of any residual moisture with the heat of the stock pot. Add warm milk, softened butter and salt to dry, cooked potatoes and mash until completely smooth using a hand mixer. Serve immediately. Enjoy!