Make Super Smooth Mashed Potatoes With a Fine Mesh Strainer

Make Super Smooth Mashed Potatoes With a Fine Mesh Strainer

Mashed potatoes are easy enough to make, but getting them to that perfect, creamy texture is harder than it first appears. Fans of smooth spuds usually end up purchasing a ricer, which breaks down the spuds into tiny (rice-like) bits by forcing them through little holes. These extruded—but still fluffy—spud flecks are then coated with dairy and fat, creating an airy potato emulsion. But you don’t need a ricer to accomplish this. Your fine mesh strainer will work just fine.

How to use a strainer to make perfect mashed potatoes

Photo: Claire Lower

I picked up this method watching a video from British chef Thomas Straker. In it, Straker places halved baked potatoes in a fine mesh strainer, flesh side down, then pushes the flesh through the mesh with a towel, creating a pile of tiny potato particles, primed and ready to receive loads of butter and cream. (Though Straker actually used his spuds to make gnocchi, which looks good as hell.)

I decided to try the method for myself. I boiled a few halved Yukon golds until they were fork-tender, drained away the water, then added a few tablespoons of butter and a healthy splash of milk to the still-hot pot. I placed my (large) fine mesh strainer over the pot, then pushed the potatoes through it, flesh side down. Instead of using a towel to hot the hot plant matter, I tried the back of a large spoon, which allowed me to scrape and press the spuds, rather than just push. The skins stayed in the strainer, the extruded flesh fell into the pot, and all I had to do was give everything a quick stir to incorporate the warm dairy. The resulting mash was perfectly smooth and creamy, with no actual mashing required.

Why ricing is better than other potato-mashing methods

There are many ways to mash potatoes. Dedicated potato mashers, big wooden spoons, and stand mixers all get the job done, but stand mixers are expensive. Manual methods can result in over-mixing as you strain to get the texture right, and overworking spuds busts up their starch granules, rendering your mash gluey and gloppy. (The same thing happens if you involve fast moving blades, which is why you should never use a food processor to mash potatoes.)

The fine mesh strainer method, meanwhile, breaks the potatoes down into tiny pieces, so all you have to do is gently fold in your dairy of choice. No mashing, no overworking, no ricer—just silky smooth spuds.

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