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French-Style Mashed Potatoes (Pommes Purée)

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Cooks Illustrated, November/December 2017, page 7.

Chef Joël Robuchon’s indulgent recipe for ultrasilky and buttery mashed potatoes poses a number of challenges for the home cook, including peeling piping-hot whole boiled potatoes, laboriously beating a full pound of cold butter into the potatoes, and passing the puree multiple times through a special restaurant sieve called a tamis. Our recipe eliminates all those challenges. Instead of using water, we cook peeled, diced potatoes directly in the milk and butter that will be incorporated into the mash. This approach also eliminates the need to laboriously beat in the butter after the fact and captures potato starch released during cooking, which is key to producing an emulsified texture where the butter doesn’t separate out. Processing the potatoes with just a food mill (skipping the tamis) delivers a puree that is still wonderfully smooth but requires a lot less work.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • Salt and white pepper

Details

Adapted from cooksillustrated.com

Preparation

Step 1

When serving, keep the richness in mind. A small dollop on each plate should suffice.

1. Place potatoes in fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Set aside to drain.

2. Heat butter, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt in large saucepan over low heat until butter has melted. Add potatoes, increase heat to medium-low, and cook until liquid just starts to boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and gently simmer until paring knife can be slipped into and out of centers of potatoes with no resistance, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

3. Drain potatoes in fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Wipe out saucepan. Return cooking liquid to saucepan and place saucepan over low heat.

4. Set food mill fitted with finest disk over saucepan. Working in batches, transfer potatoes to hopper and process. Using whisk, recombine potatoes and cooking liquid until smooth, 10 to 15 seconds (potatoes should almost be pourable). Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

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