The iconic potato dish, made popular by the late culinary legend Joël Robuchon, isn’t as ambitious as it sounds. Rouchon gained popularity serving spectacular dishes made from the simplest ingredients in his Parisian—and Pomme Purée is a perfect example. Made from just potatoes, butter, and milk, it’s an impressive, yet, straightforward dish.
When making my version of Pomme Purée, I opt for Yukon Gold potatoes, which tend to be the creamiest variety. And in addition to whole milk and a lot of butter (a whole pound!), I steep a few cloves of garlic in the warm milk and season with white pepper, instead of black, to avoid the noticeable little peppery flecks. But it’s not just the simple ingredients (and surplus of butter) that makes this side dish reign supreme. The real magic lies in the technique.
First, I cook the potatoes whole and peel them after. This prevents the potatoes from soaking up too much liquid, which may result in dreaded watery mash. And as an added bonus, peeling cooked potatoes is a lot less slippery than peeling them before. If you use an ice water bath, the skins practically side right off.
Second, instead of using a potato masher or fork, I twirl the spuds through a food mill. A potato ricer works just as well (po-tay-to, po-tah-to)—but you definitely need one of the two. The first time I made this dish I didn't have either gadget, and clumsily pressed potatoes through a fine mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. Did it work? Sure. Do I suggest it? Not at all.
Lastly, when combining the milled or riced potatoes with the warm butter and milk mixture, stir with a wooden mixing spoon. Some recipes suggest a whisk, but with great caution. Using a whisk, (or even worse, a hand mixer!), can easily over-mix the potatoes, giving them a gummy, gluey texture. A slow and steady stir is all you need.
The result? A side dish so incredibly creamy, so rich, you won’t need to smother them in a pool of gravy. Now, that's a true MVP side.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, NYT Cooking and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.