• Suzanne Yearley

Ahead-of-the-Rush: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

November 12, 2017

Suzanne Yearley

Besides turkey, nothing else says Thanksgiving like mashed potatoes. For many people, this is the best part of the meal. Everyone has their favorite variation: made with butter, milk or cream, or a combination; flavored or simple; creamy or chunky; embellished with caramelized onions or not. Whatever version is part of your family holiday menu, the same drama unfolds in kitchens everywhere.  Cooks race to complete the mashed potatoes at the last minute before the rest of the meal gets cold so the potatoes will be at their fluffiest- and richest-best. In the rush, milk boils over onto the burners, smears of mashed potatoes are left behind on the counter. While purists may not agree, there are three ways to avoid this mess and make things a little less stressful while still making culinary memories. Each has it's advantages. If you are skeptical, this is how many restaurants do it.

Three ways to make mashed potatoes ahead:

  1. These garlic mashed potatoes can be made completely the day before, placed in a baking dish, dotted with additional butter, and covered with parchment or wax paper. Bring to room temperature for 1 hour. Reheat in a 350^F oven (still covered to prevent a skin from forming) for 35 to 40 minutes until really hot. Remove cover, transfer to a serving dish, fluff with a fork, and serve. (Tops for ease, this method involves nothing but oven reheating. )

  2. Put the potatoes through a food mill and store in a microwaveable-dish, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Just before serving, reheat in the microwave. Stir in room-temperature butter and warm milk/cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately. (You lose almost nothing in texture here, but still have last minute work to complete.)

  3. Keep the potatoes hot for up to one hour, covered, in a double-boiler set over barely-simmering water. Fluff with a fork and serve. ( A compromise of the two methods.)

Secrets for Success:

  • Yukon-gold or Idaho potatoes with their higher starch content make the best mashed potatoes. Do not use red, new or boiling potatoes.

  • Because of the starch, mashed potatoes can become gummy when overworked. Avoid over mixing and never use a food processor.

  • Taste, taste and taste again when seasoning. Potatoes can absorb a lot of salt.

  • If you use the oven reheat method and are making the potatoes 24 hours advance, go a little lighter with the seasoning as the taste will develop overnight.

Garlic-Mashed Potatoes

Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook


2 large heads garlic

5lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

½-1 cup heavy cream

½ -1 cup milk

1-2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes

salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350^F. Leaving the heads intact, cut the tops off of the garlic. Place the garlic in a small baking dish, drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt, and bake until very soft, about 45 minutes. As soon as the garlic is cool enough, remove the cloves from the skins.

The garlic can be prepared two days in advance and brought to room temperature before proceeding.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until easily pierced with a knife, 20-25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the milk and cream in a heavy-bttpmed saucepan and warm lightly.Turn off the heat.

Drain the potatoes well and place, in batches, in a food mill with the garlic. Put through the mill. Beginning with the smaller amounts in the range above, add the butter and warm cream/milk as you go. Mix the potatoes with a large fork and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more milk, cream and butter as desired.

Serve immediately or alternatively, the potatoes can be made the day before, placed in a baking dish, dotted with additional butter, and covered with parchment or wax paper. Reheat in a 350^F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until really hot. Serve as is or transfer to a serving dish, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Serves 12-16.


make ahead



side dish



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