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Serious Mashed Potatoes

Everyone from Indiana secretly loves mashed potatoes. Here's a recipe for mashed spuds that I like better than mom's, along with a couple of twists to class them up for company.

This recipe is a little spiffier than what my Mother made during my upbringing on "the farm" but it still follows the same basic fundamentals!

Serves 4-6 (depending on how many "mashed potato hounds" there are in your family)

6 to 7 medium Idaho potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into large pieces (my Mother said 1 potato per person and 1 for the pot — I had sisters, and I find that 12 year old boys can usually eat more than that!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sour cream
Milk (whole or lower fat is fine)

Cover the potatoes with water in a pan, bring to a boil and then turn down temperature and simmer uncovered until fork tender - about 20-25 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain and transfer to mixing bowl. Add salt and butter, and blend with an electric mixer (portable or stand) on low speed until broken into even, small pieces. Increase speed to medium/medium high and mix until they look like stiff mashed potatoes, scrapping sides of bowl (about 45 seconds). May take a little longer with a portable. Reduce speed of mixer to low, and add sour cream and about 1/8 cup of milk. Blend, adding additional small quantities of milk (like a tablespoons at a time) until potatoes take on a lighter, fluffier quality. Give the beaters to your 12 year old to lick clean, and serve immediately.

A couple of variations that are popular in our house are as follows:

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes: At 325 degrees, roast a whole garlic, peeled but not separated into cloves, in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and several generous shakes of herbes de provence in the oven for about 60 minutes. After cooled, squeeze the roasted garlic from the shell of the cloves into the mixing bowl before adding the potatoes. Mix/purée the roasted garlic until smooth, adding a touch of olive oil if needed, and then proceed with adding the potatoes and finish as above.

Try this with grilled salmon!

Mustard mashed potatoes: Add 2 tablespoons of whole-grain or coarse-grain mustard before adding the milk.

Try this with grilled or roast beef

Horseradish mashed potatoes: Add 1 tablespoon of prepared (not creamy) horseradish before adding the milk. Depending on your love of horseradish, you can even add more. Potatoes with a punch — great tasting.

Try this with veal or pork tenderloin

Something we haven't tried ourselves, but have tasted elsewhere are gorgonzola mashed potatoes. We think adding about 1/4 cup of crumbled gorgonzola before the milk would be about the right quantity — very tasty.