It's one of the most popular comfort foods, equally happy accompanying sausages, steak or a bean casserole. To avoid tears and tantrums about lumps, sloppiness or lack of flavour, follow a few tips to make the perfect mash.
Use the right kind of potatoes.
You will have your own preferences, but generally floury potatoes make the best mash. New and salad potatoes are unsuitable.
Boil the potatoes until they are yielding but not falling apart. Overcooking will make your mash watery.
Let the strained potatoes release a little steam before mashing them. This will avoid too much moisture getting into the mash.
Butter is the perfect ingredient to add at the mashing stage, allowing it to melt into the potatoes and give them that rich, smooth texture.
A little salt and black pepper are the classic seasonings. Some cooks prefer to use white pepper in mash for aesthetic reasons.
Use a proper masher or, better still, a potato ricer. Blenders will destroy your mash and turn it into starchy glue. Ricers guarantee an even texture and smoothness.
Be wary of adding milk as some recipes advise. Although this might make the mash creamier, there is the danger of sloppiness. A small spoon of cream or crème fraiche might be a better idea.
Popular additions to mash include spring onions, chives, mustard, cheese, horseradish or chopped parsley. Think carefully before you throw any of these in as they will alter the character of your mash. Consider what the mash will be accompanying before deciding what flavourings would be appropriate.