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11/14/2012 11:36 am ET Updated Jan 14, 2013

How To Ruin Mashed Potatoes

Flickr: BrownGuacamole

By Jasmin Sun, Food & Wine

At New York's Minetta Tavern, co-chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr nearly upstage their exceptional steaks with an arsenal of perfectly cooked potatoes -- either fried, mashed with cream and butter or simply roasted. Here, they explain how to master mashed potatoes at home by identifying and troubleshooting the most common mistakes.

Slideshow: Fabulous Mashed Potato Recipes

1. Using cold butter and cream. Having your butter and cream at room temperature or warmer helps them absorb more easily into hot potatoes.

2. Over-blending. Using all warm ingredients means you shouldn't have to overwork the mixture, which can make the potatoes gluey. "You have to treat your mashed potatoes like a mousse: Avoid whipping it too much when you add the butter and cream," says Hanson.

3. Mashing with a fork. For a creamy result, stick with food mills or potato ricers, which act like a press, pushing the cooked potato through tiny holes. "Mashed potatoes should be smooth, buttery and hot, almost like a puree," says Hanson. "I completely disagree with people who like chunky mashed potatoes. They may say that it's 'rustic,' but I don't get it."

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