Depending on who's making them, mashed potatoes can run the texture gamut from gluey, clumpy messes to transcendently fluffy and delicious. While many stress over the perfect amount of butter or liquid to add or how long to boil their potatoes, there's one thing many cooks ignore: the size of the potatoes themselves.
It all comes down to the starch content. Starch is what's responsible for making your mashed potatoes equally fluffy and creamy, and starchier potatoes are better at absorbing flavors. Therefore, it makes sense to look for potatoes with the highest starch content, like russets and katahdins. Generally speaking, these are the larger potatoes you'll find at most markets. Larger potatoes also mean you'll need fewer for the same weight, meaning less time and effort spent peeling.
Conversely, you should avoid smaller potatoes, especially those classified as "waxy." These include varieties like red bliss and fingerlings, as well as any new or baby potatoes. These can easily turn gummy due to their comparable lack of starch, creating a less-than-desirable texture for diners.
Size Isn't Everything
Choosing the right kind of spuds isn't the only mashed potato secret you need to know. One of the most critical of these is to avoid overworking your potatoes, like in a food processor or with a high-speed hand mixer. These aggressive methods break down the cell walls of the potato mash, creating the gluiness we've likely all encountered before. Hand-mashing or stand mixers with paddle attachments are preferred, while ricers can be used for the fluffiest results.
You can also ensure fluffy mashed potatoes through a simple trick that starts with completely draining the boiled potatoes and returning them to their cooking pot to further dry. Once the moisture has evaporated, add a pinch of baking powder to encourage air pockets to form while you're mashing.
Now that you know the right potatoes to pick and the perfect way to finesse them for fluffiness, try out these tricks to make the best mashed potatoes possible.
Read the original article on Mashed.