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How To: Potatoes Two Ways

Welcome to How To. In this video series Kevin Van of both Providence and The Dining Society will guide us through simple, delicious at-home recipes. If you have a recipe request, let us know in the comments.

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Recipes for mashed potatoes -- from fluffy to creamy, and about every shade in between -- typically rely heavily on the addition of fat. But the truth is, choosing the right potato for the job carries more weight than how much dairy you use. For this episode, I picked fingerlings (low starch, buttery texture) for creamy mashed potatoes, and small Yukon Golds (an all-purpose potato, good for just about any application) for olive oil-crushed potatoes. For the mash, I'll skip the cream and instead go for a combination of milk and butter; cream overwhelms and tends to make everything taste like ... well, cream, whereas milk and butter act as a vehicle for the potato-y flavor. And for the olive oil-crushed potatoes, I like a tiny bit of butter to add richness, though it can be omitted if you prefer.

Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4
1 lb potatoes (try using Yukon Golds or Yellow Finns for creamy; Russets for fluffy; French Fingerlings for in between)
4 oz. (or more) butter
4 oz. whole milk
salt to taste
seasonings, optional (think chopped fresh thyme, freshly ground black pepper, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese, etc.)

Peel the potatoes and cut them relatively the same size, about 2 inch chunks. Put them in a large sauce pot and cover with water. Season the cooking water with salt (about 1/4 cup salt per 2 quarts water). Over high heat, bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. After 15 or so minutes, check the doneness by either stabbing one with a small knife, or picking one up with a spoon and squeezing it (it should crumble when pressed). Once cooked, drain the potatoes using a colander, and let them cool and steam just until you're able to handle them. While the potatoes are still warm, process the potatoes using a potato ricer, box grater, or food mill set over a bowl or piece of parchment paper. Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat, then transfer the potatoes into the pot. Add the milk, whisk thoroughly to combine until smooth, and add additional milk or butter if desired. Season with salt and other seasonings if using. Serve immediately.

Olive Oil-Crushed Potatoes
Serves 4
1 lb. potatoes (try using German Butterballs, French Fingerlings, or Yukon Golds)
1 bunch chives, chopped very finely
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a large sauce pot, and add enough water to cover the potatoes and then some. Season the water with salt (about 1/2 cup salt per 2 quarts water). Over high heat, bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. After 15 or so minutes, check the doneness by either stabbing one with a small knife, or picking one up with a spoon and squeezing it (it should feel soft all the way through). Once cooked, drain the potatoes with a colander, and transfer to a baking sheet or large container. Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, then transfer to the fridge to finish cooling. Once the potatoes are cooled all the way through, peel the potatoes. Take the potatoes one by one and crush them first with the palm of your hand. Then use a fork to completely and uniformly crush the potatoes. In a large pan, heat the olive oil, butter, and garlic. Once the butter starts to foam, add the potatoes and stir with a spatula or spoon to incorporate the olive oil. Add the chives and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!