There is plenty to love about the humble potato: It’s inexpensive, comforting and oh-so versatile.
A member of the nightshade family, the potato is one of the world’s most popular staple starchy food crops and in Canada, potatoes comprise 52% of all the fresh vegetables we consume year-round. This shouldn’t be too surprising because we’ve been growing these mighty tubers for a long time — the first potato crop was planted in the late 1700s.
More than 200 years later, potato production in Canada has become a $1 billion industry, with over 4.3 million metric tons of potatoes produced in 2019 alone. Canada is the world’s fifth-largest producer of potatoes and the majority of Canada’s annual potato production is concentrated in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Alberta.
Adaptable, affordable and naturally gluten-free, potatoes are versatile enough to assume any role on the table, from salads to stews, casseroles and desserts, and they are a great addition to omelets, tacos, pizzas, and oatmeal. With so many ways to prepare potatoes, mashing them with butter is always a dish everyone can agree on. After all, there’s something about this creamy, buttery side that feels like a warm hug any time of year.
What kind of potatoes should you use?
Mealy potatoes like russets, have thick skin, high starch content, and are low in both moisture and sugar content. Waxy potatoes, like baby red or new potatoes, are the exact opposite — they’re thin-skinned with high sugar content. When making mashed potatoes, I prefer the fluffy, starchy russet potato. The naturally low moisture content of the russet readily allows easy incorporation of the decadent dairy products, which results in the crave-worthy, creamy mashed potatoes of our dreams.
Here’s how to make the very best mashed potatoes. Serves 4 Yields 4 1⁄2 cups approximately.
2 lbs (1 kg) russet potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled
Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (200 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, softened
1 cup whipping cream or whole milk, scalded
1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
The potato ricer is the secret to creamiest, lump- free mashed potatoes. The tool forces cooked potatoes through the tiny holes via a hopper and plunger construction. This method also incorporates air into the potatoes as it pushes them through, giving them amazing texture.”Chef ILona Daniel
Cut the potatoes and 1 tbsp of salt into a pot and cover with enough cold water to submerge the potatoes.
Simmer the potatoes until they are cooked through, approximately 30 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and peel them.
Using a ricer, mill the potatoes into a bowl.
Stir in heated cream, butter, 2 1⁄4 tsp salt and nutmeg.
Note: You can store mashed potatoes in a sealed container for up to four days.
Chef ILona Daniel is Harrowsmith’s Food Editor and the founder of Tribe Fresh Events and Consulting, a purpose-driven insights consultancy accelerated by modern approaches to the hospitality industry, immersive experiences, and community and culture development. She has worked on projects around the world and is on the Board of Directors for the Tourism Association of PEI. Chef Ilona is a media personality, and a Culinary Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Canada.