Prep-ahead mashed potatoes

I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner at someone else's house--so I need to do as much prep ahead as possible. I'm wondering if I can boil my potatoes ahead of time, then reheat, mash and add milk just before serving? Even better if I can mash ahead, then butter and milk last minute. Or is there another way? Also, what would be the best type of potato to use for this?

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9 Comments

ChefOno September 30, 2012

Cooling a large batch of potatoes gets into some food safety issues that are problematic even in a restaurant environment. Over time -- a few days under refrigeration, a few hours when hot -- potatoes can develop stale and other off flavors. Will this work for you?

Without sacrificing anything, you can mash the potatoes with butter and hold at room temperature for up to three hours. Warm them just before serving over low heat, adding the cream at that time.

The butter should be cold and mixed in as you mill, rice or mash. Warm butter invites greasiness; cold will emulsify much better. Besides adding richness, the fat coats the starch granules, insulating them from the liquid, preventing glueyness.

On American tables, russets are traditional and will be the fluffiest, some people prefer the flavor of Yukon Golds. You've got plenty of time for a few trial runs, try them both and decide for yourself.

Try: For each pound of potatoes, mix in a quarter pound of butter (cut into pieces) then add sufficient heavy cream (1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending) -- plus salt to taste.

 

Voted the Best Reply!

slock September 30, 2012
I always make them ahead of time. I reheat in the microwave. They are still delicious. I use Yukon golds, butter, half n half, salt and pepper and make a rough mash. I don't like puréed potatoes. I'll also mix things up and add pepper jack cheese, or garlic and rosemary, or cheddar, sour cream, small amount of minced onion and crisp bacon. Yum!
 
sdebrango September 30, 2012
I make the mashed potatoes the day before Thanksgiving every year, cover really well in plastic wrap and reheat right before dinner. They taste perfectly delicious and no one ever knows i make them ahead.
 
missedtheboatagain October 1, 2012
Please tell me more. Do you reheat in the microwave? Avoid stirring? And what do you use to do your initial mashing?
 
missedtheboatagain October 1, 2012
Please tell me more. Do you reheat in the microwave? Avoid stirring? And what do you use to do your initial mashing?
 
sdebrango October 1, 2012
I use my food mill so that they are perfectly creamy no lumps, I use sour cream, butter salt and pepper in my potatoes. Cover well and refrigerate, about 2 hours before dinner I remove from the refrigerator so the potatoes are not so cold. I use a stainless mixing bowl to mix and store and put a large pot of water to boil, I cover the bowl with foil and place the mixing bowl on top of the simmering water, stir occasionally and then put in my serving dish, I have never used the microwave but I am sure that would work well, the reason I don't do that is because I make a huge amount of potatoes and I could not put them all in the microwave at once. I hope this helps. Putting the potatoes over simmering water gently heats them it takes about 30 minutes but for me thats fine I am always frantically trying to get everything else ready for the big meal.
 
Benny September 30, 2012
Mashed potatoes are funny that way. They seem so simple that I always save them for the last 30 minutes of prep. Suddenly, I have this big pot of water taking up stove space, your sink needs to be clear for your colander, and if you are like me, you have to take out the food mill which is another space taking contraption and extra parts to clean.

I've never boiled potatoes ahead of time with the intention to to re-heat and mash later. That just seems like the same amount of trouble as just boiling them that day. I would steer clear of mashing ahead of time, then adding butter and cream later. I think that would possibly make your potatoes gummy (for lack of better description). Its best to mix the cream and butter in at the same time you mash them.

For me, I take my mashed potatoes seriously. When I am serving guests, its just one of those things that I have accepted the inconvenience of having to do them just before serving. Boil, drain, let it sit for a while to evaporate, run through a food mill, fold in cream, butter, salt and pepper.
 
ChefOno September 30, 2012

I'm with you, Benny, except the part about mixing in the cream at the same time as the butter. Or maybe I misread you. Anyway, doing some of the prep before service won't save a burner or really any time but it does keep the sink clear and get some of the equipment out of the way during all the last minute commotion.

 
inpatskitchen September 30, 2012
I found this recipe a couple of years ago and have been using it ever since when I make mashed potatoes for a crowd. I normally use Idahoes for mashed.
http://busycooks.about.com/od/sidedishrecipes/r/cpmashedpotatoe.htm
 
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