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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Good ole Idaho Mashed Potatoes

Born and raised right in the middle of Idaho potato country has allowed me to enjoy potatoes almost every day of my life.  We can grow potatoes in our garden but when there are fields and fields of them all around us it's so easy to buy bulk potatoes from a nearby farmer and store them for the winter.  

This year I bought from my cousin who has a field just a mile from me.  This field is part of a farm my grandpa bought and farmed with his boys many years ago. Good soil for growing potatoes and families.  I grew up hearing stories of hand picking potatoes out of the rows in the fall harvest but with modern equipment harvesting is much easier!   There's nothing like the earthy smell of potatoes fresh out of the ground.  

Freshly dug Idaho Potatoes heading into the cellar for storage.
Big beautiful spuds!!!

I like to store 200-300 pounds of potatoes through the winter.  If I pull them right out of the field and put them in gunny sacks or boxes, I can put them in my garage and throw a heavy blanket over them and they'll store into the late spring.  Once in a while if the garage temperature drops below 32 degrees I have to put an electric heater in there overnight to keep them from freezing.   They store best unwashed and in a cool, dark, place.

Mashed potatoes are a staple at our house.  Served as a side dish with gravy or butter, or as the base with a hearty gravy over the top as a main dish or even as the top of a shepherds pie, mashed potatoes are so versatile!

Directions for delicious Idaho Mashed Potatoes.

Start with about 1 medium sized Russet potato per person. (Burbanks are our favorite but Norkotas work too)  Lets say we're feeding a family of 4 for this "recipe".

4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

Place into a medium saucepan and cover with cold water and 1 tsp. salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a fork.  Not TOO soft or you'll not be able to add as much milk but too firm and they'll be lumpier than you might like.

Drain well.

Mash with a good old fashioned potato masher.  (They're a little harder to find but I really like the results better than with a ricer.  I keep my eye out at thrift stores for older, sturdy mashers but you can buy them on for less than $10 too!)  Be sure you scoop around the edges of the pan to pull out any potato quarters that are hiding there.... once you add the butter and milk it's hard to get the lumps out.

Add 1/4 C. (half of a cube) of real butter and let it melt as you use the potato masher to mix it in.  Add 1/3-1/2 C. milk or cream and continue mashing until all is well blended. (add more milk until the potatoes are the consistency you like - I like mine pretty thick.)  Add salt to taste if you wish.  Pile the mashed potatoes into a bowl and place a nice pat of butter on top to serve.

This is my idea of perfectly mashed potatoes if you're topping them with gravy!   If we're just topping them with butter, I like them a little bit thinner.  Either way they are so creamy and delicious!

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