The holidays are coming, and the mashed potatoes are the mana that holds together the whole meal. Besides, if you’ve got kids at your table, the chances are that that will be their whole meal. Kids can sometimes be picky, so you might feel pressure that your mashed potatoes need to be perfect.
There are numerous different types of mashed potatoes, but ever since the KFC included mashed potatoes and gravy in their menu, it seems that their recipe is the one that is everybody’s all-time favorite, including me and my family.
In search of a perfect balance of different flavors of potatoes and gravy, we have done a lot of research and tried out many recipes. Of course, we will share the best mash potatoes and gravy recipe with you, so do read on.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT KIND OF POTATOES
The first thing to do is choosing the right type of potatoes for your meal. Of course, you can use almost every variety that you currently have in your kitchen, but if you want the fluffiest mashed potatoes you’ve ever made, Russets are the way to go. They are high in starch, and therefore have a lighter consistency which allows them to absorb butter and cream.
Russets also have the most neutral flavor too, so they make a good choice when you plan to enrich your mashed potatoes, such as with gravy. Besides russets, there are alternative names for this kind of potato. For example, some grocery stores have them labeled as bakers, but they are also called Idaho potatoes.
THE RIGHT WAY TO MASH THE POTATOES
The next important thing is to handle your potatoes properly after they have been cooked. Do not use the food processor, blender or hand mixer to whip them if you expect the fluffy texture. Use the ricer or a food mill. The process of making mashed potatoes seems straightforward if you don’t mind the final result.
However, there are different factors (not only choosing the right type of potatoes) which will affect the outcome.
HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK AND GRAVY MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
Some people usually don’t like prepackaged ingredients, and tend to make every part of the meal from scratch. Gravy is no exception. Prepackaged gravy from the shop not only tastes bland but is also more expensive.
For this reason, some of us usually make chicken soup along with mashed potatoes and meat, and instead of using chicken stock from the store, make our own.
BEST MASH POTATOES AND GRAVY RECIPE
• 3 lbs. white boiling potatoes peeled and sliced in half (if you use baking ones, use them whole since they become too soft after the boiling process )
• Kosher salt
• 1⁄4 lb. unsalted butter
• 1⁄2-1 cup half-and-half
• 1⁄2 cup sour cream
• 1⁄2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper.
The ingredients you will need for the gravy are:
• one teaspoon per every onion of unsalted butter
• one teaspoon per every onion of olive oil
• one 1⁄2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
• 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
• one teaspoon kosher salt
• 1⁄2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
• 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, heated
• one tablespoon of cognac (or 1 tablespoon of brandy)
• one tablespoon of heavy cream (optional)
The Best Way To Cook Your Potatoes
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until very tender. The key is to make sure that the whole potatoes, or the sliced pieces, are roughly the same size so they can all cook at the same rate. You can check if they are properly cooked by using a fork or a knife. If the utensil slides easily to the center of the potatoes, they are done.
Moreover, do not cover the pan, because that can make your potatoes mushy. When done, drain the potatoes using a strainer or a slotted spoon. If you have little more time and want the best result, spread them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven preheated to 250 F. In this way, all the water will evaporate and make them totally dry and ready for mashing.
Meanwhile, warm the half-and-half and butter in a small saucepan. While the potatoes are still hot and dry, place them in a larger bowl and mash them. Slowly add the warm butter and half-and-half mixture and sour cream. Season the mix properly with two teaspoons of salt and a pinch of pepper. If you want a smoother texture, mash the mix longer.
HOW TO COOK THE BEST GRAVY: COOKING THE ONIONS CORRECTLY IS NOT AN EASY TASK
Many recipes start with cooking the onions. This gravy recipe is no different. Even though they are the backbone of many savory dishes, cooking the onions can be a little bit tricky, especially if you want them to have that nice caramelized texture and sweet flavor. I will give you a couple of useful advice that will make your onions taste and appear like they’re served straight from the Michelin star restaurant.
Many people don’t pay attention to the way onions are sliced and the size of the slices. If you slice them thinly, they will burn faster and stick to the bottom of your pan.
To avoid this mistake, slice the ½ inch off the stem ends of the onions, as well as the roots off of the root end. Cut the onions in half through the root end. Next, peel the skin all the way to the root end but do not remove it. In this way, you can hold the onions together as you cut them.
Place the cut side of the onion down on the cutting board; make angled cuts, aiming at the center of each onion.
Cut until the root end but not completely. Aim your slices to be 1/8 inch thick. After cutting, remove the root end.
After that, use a larger sauté pan (10- to 12-inch) for cooking the onions. That way you can spread them evenly on the surface of the pan and prevent them from steaming and producing water. Less water means less time to make them caramelized.
Heat the mixture of olive oil and butter over a low to medium heat. Butter burns easily, and this is why we are mixing it with olive oil. After the mixture starts shimmering, add the onion slices and stir them occasionally. If you turned up the heat and made them too dry, do not worry. Just add a little bit of water to the pan and lower the temperature.
It takes time to cook the onions, and you need to be patient. Let them cook for around 45 minutes to one hour, stirring every few minutes. The exact time of cooking depends on the type onions and your taste preference. Usually, after 20 minutes some slices will release their own sugar and start the process of caramelization. You will recognize the start of this process with onions changing their sweaty, translucent look too golden or brown.
After around 40 minutes you will smell that beautiful caramel-like scent. If you like the way they taste, you can stop cooking. If you like your onions to be even more caramelized, you will need more time to cook them. In this case, add a little bit of water or wine – that will dissolve the glaze. You can repeat this step until you get the perfect taste.
The hardest and longest part of the recipe is finally finished. The rest of the instructions are pretty easy and straightforward. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk in, and season it with salt and pepper. After it starts boiling, continue whisking and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. The flour will give a slightly nutty flavor which combined with the caramel-like aroma of the onions will make this gravy more appetizing.
While stirring the mixture, add the preheated chicken stock along with Cognac or brandy and cook uncovered. Do not be afraid to serve this gravy to your children; all the alcohol will evaporate and just add a little bit of strong flavor to your gravy, they won’t even notice it. Time needed for this final step depends on what kind of thickness of the gravy you like. Some like their gravy thicker and cook it for 4 to 5 minutes.
This recipe takes a lot of time, especially if you want your mash potatoes to taste fluffy, thick and creamy. We are aware that many people don’t have or want to spend that much time in the kitchen and that is why we are always trying to find the recipes that can be made in less time but still taste phenomenal.
However, you will not regret spending some extra time when preparing this meal. All you need to do is follow a few simple rules for preparation, and you will surely make the meal you are serving with mash potatoes and gravy more mouth-watering.