If you ever doubted that the French love butter, just look at how they make mashed potatoes. French Chef Joel Robuchon, whose Las Vegas restaurant L’Atelier inspired me to make a Bordelaise sauce recipe, purportedly uses one pound of butter for every two pounds of potatoes. He also manages to peel hot potatoes after they have been boiled and vigorously stir the cold butter into the hot potatoes. I wanted similar results but without all that trouble. I wanted silky smooth, rich-tasting mashed potatoes that could be sculpted into towering sandcastles of fancy. With some hints from Cook’s Illustrated, I think that this recipe for pommes puree achieves that.
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You might be tempted to cut this recipe in half because 2 pounds of potatoes seems like a lot, but there is a fair amount of work required and lots of equipment to clean so you are better off making the larger quantity and saving your leftovers. However, cooking a large quantity doesn’t mean eating a large quantity when you serve them. The richness of these potatoes means that a single serving should be small and each bite savored, like the foie gras-stuffed quail with pommes puree in this photo from my meal at L’Atelier.
These potatoes are so rich and luxurious that I would (probably) even choose them over my Nana’s cheesy potatoes that were served at every holiday meal for each and every grandchild. I do believe that Nana’s special cheesy potatoes involved some form of Velveeta but that’s because she was Texan, not French.
One piece of special equipment you need for this recipe is a food mill, and a recommended one is the RSVP Classic Rotary Food Mill. That food mill, which is different from the food mill used in my video, really will help you to get smoother potatoes than a potato masher and is useful for other tasks. Once you have made your pommes puree, you could serve them with sous vide lamb chops if you feel that foie gras-stuffed quail is a little out of your league.
The mashed potatoes are also really decadent with pan seared scallops and a saffron cream sauce. It’s an instant upgrade to date night at home.
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter (20 tablespoons)
- 1 ⅓ cups whole milk
- Peel potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces, and rinse under cold running water.
- Heat butter, milk, and one teaspoon salt in a large pot over low heat until the butter has melted. Add the cut potatoes, increase heat to medium-low, and bring liquid to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer 30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife.
- Set a strainer over a large bowl and drain the potatoes but reserve the cooking liquid. Return the cooking liquid to the pot and turn the heat to low.
- Use a foodmill with the finest holes to puree the potatoes back into the pot. Gently whisk the pureed potatoes into the liquid until smooth and well-combined, just 10 to 15 seconds. Season to taste with salt and white pepper and serve warm.