I rate my childhood based on food memories, and I have a lot of food memories! Dad and Grandpa farmed together and pretty much spent every day together. Since Grandma and Grandpa lived across the road (where I live now), my sister and I spent a lot of time with Grandma: bike rides, cookie baking, putting curlers in her hair, and cross-stitching. Do I sound like a member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder family yet?
Grandma Alice knows how to cook. Not just kind of cook, but the kind of cooking that encompasses preparing entire meals for her whole family. It has always come off with such ease, all in spite of her humble nature.
Often, food tastes better when someone else makes it, especially a grandma or mom. It always seems like they have to have a secret, something no one else knows about to create the best food ever. How does it always turn out so well for them?
One of these special dishes was Grandma’s mashed potatoes. Always fluffy, always smooth with no lumps, and always the perfect carrier for her gravy.
What type of potato makes the best mashed potatoes?
If you search for the best potatoes for making mashed potatoes, there are many thoughts on the subject. Grandma has always used russet potatoes. When I asked why she said it’s because that’s what she always grew in her garden. I have no better reason than that: use what you have.
Good mashed potatoes are light and fluffy. The best way to achieve this is by making sure the potatoes are well-cooked. If there are undercooked pieces, they will be lumpy for sure.
To ensure even-sized pieces that cook evenly, Grandma peels and cuts the potatoes in quarters lengthwise. Adding only a few inches of water – this was a game-changer for me – the potatoes are almost steamed/boiled. Water can be the enemy of mashed potatoes and she knows how to add just enough.
Once completely tender, the potatoes are drained and mixed with an electric hand mixer. This starts the breakdown and also drives off excess steam or moisture.
While mixing, warm milk and butter are added until it’s a perfect consistency.
The ingredients are all simple. The steps are even simpler! A few of Grandma’s methods make all the difference, even without her realizing. She makes the perfect mashed potatoes and now you can too!
Let me know in the comments: did you also have a grandma that just seemed to know how to do everything and make everything perfectly?
Watch how to make these mashed potatoes:
Grandma Alice’s Mashed Potatoes
- 5 lbs russet potatoes
- 1 ½ cups whole milk, kept warm
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 1 tbsp salt
- Wash and peel potatoes, removing any eyes. Rinse and slice into quarters lengthwise. Place in an 8-quart stockpot. Add two inches of water and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover until the potatoes are cooked through, 20-25 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the heat and drain. Reserve the potato water for another use. Pour the drained potatoes into a bowl and allow the steam to settle for 2 minutes. Using an electric hand mixer or mashing by hand, mash potatoes thoroughly. Add milk slowly and mix in, alternating with pieces of butter. Continue to mix until smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, adding salt and pepper. Serve immediately as potatoes can become stiff the longer they sit.