My mother is known for a lot of her cooking and baking skills. According to my son, his Nana's mashed potatoes are just better than anyone else's. I wanted to say, "What are mine, chopped liver?" However, I know he speaks the truth. Without a doubt, Mama can mash a mean potato. All of her grandchildren love mashed potatoes, so needless to say when we have family meals, mashed potatoes are usually on the menu. All of these grandchildren are in their twenties now, but their Nana still cooks their special dishes.
There is a secret to Mama's mashed potatoes and how light and fluffy and airy they are. She is a sneaky little woman at times, because I didn't even know she put this secret ingredient in her mashed potatoes until recently. My own mother held out on me! Now you will know the secret. A starchy type potato mashes best. Russets or Idaho or even a Yukon Gold that is higher in starch and lower in moisture work well. The waxy varieties do not break down and mash as well.
Here is what you will need for these amazing mashed potatoes:
6 medium potatoes, cubed and boiled until tender
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup half and half cream, warmed slightly
Drain the boiled potatoes until all water is removed. I put mine back in the warm pot after I drain them in a colander and let them sit a minute to evaporate any water still on them. The drier, the better. Leaving too much water on the potatoes ruins a lot of mashed potatoes.
Add the salt, pepper (if using), baking powder, butter and half and half and beat with an electric mixer just until they are light and fluffy and lumps are gone. Don't over beat them, because that is what turns your mashed potatoes to that gluey texture.
The baking powder is the secret ingredient. It reacts with the warm potatoes and the cream and this is what gives them the extra lightness and fluffiness. Also, the half and half cream is another key. It has just the right amount of fat. Heavy cream tends to have too much fat and whole milk, not enough, but half and half is just right
Add a pat of butter and serve!