Herb Mashed Potatoes Recipe
For some special mashed potatoes for the holidays, but a change of pace from the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy, try these herb mashed potatoes instead! The pressure cooker makes great mashed potatoes very quickly, and using my methods, your potatoes will be light, full of rich butter and milk, and a light accent of herbs. For extra richness and creaminess, use half and half or cream instead of milk. For an extra hit of herbs, instead of regular butter, top your mashed potatoes with herb compound butter (my recipe for it will be published shortly).
Leftover herbed mashed potatoes would be great made into potato pancakes, or use them to top a shepherd’s pie!
Choice of Herbs for the Mashed Potatoes. I’d be willing to bet that between the meat, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, appetizers, soup course, side dishes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, eggnog, etc. most people use more herbs and spices during the holidays than they do the rest of the year. I chose the herbs in this recipe because they go well with mashed potatoes, they go well with turkey, beef, chicken, pork and ham, and also because they are least likely to conflict with other herbs and spices you may use in your holiday dishes. (If you’ve never thought about how certain herbs work well together, and others are a disastrous combination, try adding a little bit of oregano and tarragon to a bite of food, take a taste, and you’ll never ignore herb combinations again! Two otherwise lovely herbs that work well with many other herbs and spices become positively *vile* when eaten together.)
But I encourage you to experiment with herb combinations in your mashed potatoes, either using the same herbs you used in your stuffing or main dish, or, if you don’t have a lot of experience using herbs and spices, get a copy of The Flavor Bible (one of my all time favorite “cookbooks”), which lists thousands of foods, ingredients, herbs and spices, and tells you what they go with, classic flavor affinities, and combinations to avoid. You can use the Flavor Bible to not only select other herb combinations that work well with mashed potatoes, it tells you which herbs and spices are loud and which ones are subtle (to help you decide how much of each to add), and it tells you whether a particular herb or spice benefits from cooking longer, or whether its best added in at the end. You can also use it to help menu plan so everything on your holiday table works harmoniously together (I used it this last year and my sister said it was the best Thanksgiving meal she’s ever had), or if your pumpkin pie recipe is a little flat and needs something, you can look up the ingredients and get ideas what else you might add to improve it.
Fresh Herbs v. Dried Herbs. For this recipe, I’ve used dried herbs for two reasons: expense and convenience. Unless you have an herb garden, getting fresh herbs might require a special, last minute trip to the grocery store or a farmer’s market and they are often expensive. The last thing you need during the holidays is an extra trip or to add an extra $10 to the cost of the meal. However, if you want to use fresh instead of dried herbs, go for it! You’ll have to do some chopping, because you’ll want to have very small pieces of herbs distributed throughout the potatoes, and you’ll probably have to increase (double) the amount of herbs used (dried herbs usually have a more intense flavor than their fresh counterparts), but you can do it. If you have unused fresh herbs left over from your turkey or roast, by all means use them instead. And if you want to split the difference, you could use the dried herbs in the recipe and then garnish your herb mashed potatoes with some small snips of fresh chives.
Do I Have to Use Butter or Margarine? Yes and no. The flavor in most herbs and spices is fat soluble (this is how herbed oils become so flavorful), so “blooming” them, cooking them in some form of fat, for a minute or so will really help bring out their flavors for the dish. I’ve tried steeping the herbs in plain milk, and it just doesn’t turn out as well: I suspect the fat content is just not high enough. If you want to avoid butter or margarine, you could use an equivalent amount of olive oil instead. But some form of fat is really needed to bring out the flavor of the herbs.
Can I Double This Recipe? If you have a 6 quart electric pressure cooker, yes, you can double this recipe. You may need to use a trivet instead of a vegetable steamer to make sure you don’t exceed your machine’s maximum capacity line, but its absolutely doable.
2 pounds Russet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried chives
½ teaspoon Rubbed Sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup of milk (or half and half)
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Additional butter (optional)
Electric Pressure Cooker
12″ Silicone Tipped Tongs
Vegetable Steamer or Silicone Steamer
Potato Masher, Potato Ricer or Food Mill
Small skillet or saucepan
Bowl or large container
BLOOMING HERBS TIP: The flavor of many herbs and spices are intensified when they are bloomed, briefly cooked in a small amount of oil or butter prior to being incorporated into the recipe. Additionally, many herbs and spices have flavors that are fat soluble, that is, that you can taste more readily in the presence of fats. So I “bloom” these dried herbs in butter for a minute over low heat both to re-moisten and soften them, to coat them in fat to accentuate their flavor, and then steep them in the milk over low heat. (The flavor of sage in particular benefits from a little bit of cooking before eating it.)
- Peel 2 pounds of Russet potatoes. Remove any potato eyes. If you notice any green discoloration on or underneath the potato skin, remove at least 1/16th of an inch of the potato underneath the skin. Rinse the whole potatoes quickly in cold water.
- Cut the ends off the potatoes, cut the middle of the potatoes into 1″ thick chunks, then cut the middle pieces in half.
- Add a cup of water to the pressure cooker pot and place the trivet or vegetable steamer inside.
- Start in the center of the vegetable steamer, and place the potato chunks in a single layer. (Distributing the weight of the potatoes evenly around the steamer will prevent it from tipping over and knocking potatoes into the cooking liquid.) If you have more potato chunks than will fit in a single layer, place the extra pieces in the center.
- Once the potatoes have been layered, lock the lid and pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 7 minutes using QUICK RELEASE.
- While the potatoes are pressure cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the dried parsley, chives, rubbed sage and thyme to the butter to “bloom” it, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the milk or half and half to the herb mixture and continue heating until just below the boil.
- When the timer beeps, turn off the “keep warm” setting and use your tongs to turn the pressure release valve to release pressure. Once pressure has released, remove the lid, holding it over the pot at an angle, with the top of the lid facing you, so any hot water can fall back into the pot. Remove the cooked potato chunks from the pressure cooker.
- Mash the potatoes using either a hand masher or a potato ricer. (The potato ricer I’m using here was chosen either as America’s Test Kitchen’s winner, or its best buy, I’m not sure which, but either way, it’s a very affordable model, just a few dollars more than a traditional potato masher, its reasonably easy to clean, and its got two different size plates. I’m also looking forward to making spaetzle with it, too.) Add 1 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt to the potatoes and gently stir in.
- Add the hot mixture of herbs, butter and milk to the mashed potatoes a portion of a time. Gently stir each portion of the mixture in just enough to incorporate: you don’t want to overwork the potatoes and you don’t want to splash hot milk on yourself. Continue adding the mixture until the potatoes reach the desired consistency.
- Once potatoes have reached the consistency you want, add additional salt and pepper (if desired) to taste. Serve immediately, if possible. Enjoy!
RICING TIP: If you are using a potato ricer to make your mashed potatoes, I’ve noticed that the ricer seems to work better the hotter the potato chunks are. So rice the potatoes as soon as pressure is released, and work as quickly so the potatoes are as warm as possible. Additionally, the hotter all the ingredients are, the more milk the potatoes will absorb, so begin adding the hot milk mixture as soon as you have riced the potatoes. Adding the milk quickly to the cooked potatoes also improves the quality and texture of the mashed potatoes: “Casein reduces the quantities of amylose that leaks out of starch granules, and also limits the swelling of the starch, leading to a smoother, more pleasing consistency. Casein is an important emulsifying and binding agent“.
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- ½ teaspoon Rubbed Sage
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup of milk (or half and half)
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
- Additional butter (optional)
- Peel 2 pounds of potatoes, removing any potato eyes and if you find any green discoloration in or under the potato skin, at least 1/16" around the surface of the potato. Give whole potatoes a quick rinse under cold water.
- Cut off each potato end, cut the middle pieces into 1 inch thick pieces, and then cut the middle pieces in half.
- Place a vegetable steamer or trivet into the pressure cooker pot and add 1 cup of cold water.
- Starting in the center, and working your way evenly around, place the potato pieces in the vegetable steamer in a single layer. If you have more than will fit in a single layer, place the extra pieces in the center.
- Place the pressure cooker lid on the pot and lock. Cook for 7 minutes at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) using QUICK RELEASE.
- While the potatoes are cooking, place a saucepan or skillet over low heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the parsley, chives, rubbed sage and thyme to the butter, and bloom the herbs in the butter for a minute. Add 1 cup of milk or half and half to the saucepan, stir to incorporate and heat to just below the boil.
- When the pressure cooker timer goes off, release the pressure with your tongs and turn off the "keep warm" feature. Once pressure has been fully released, remove the lid, holding it at an angle over the pot and allowing any hot water to fall back inside. Use the tongs to move the cooked potato pieces to a bowl or other container.
- Mash the potato using either a hand masher or a potato ricer. Add 1 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt and incorporate into the potatoes.
- Add a portion of the hot milk/butter/herb mixture to the potatoes and gently stir to incorporate. Continue slowly adding a portion of the milk mixture at a time, gently mixing or mashing it into potatoes until all is absorbed and the herbs are evenly distributed among the potatoes.
- Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Best if served immediately. Enjoy!