Pressure Cooker Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Pressure cookers make excellent potatoes, and mashed potatoes are probably the finest example of that. There are several secrets to making these rich, yet light and fluffy mashed potatoes: First, unlike many recipes, high starch Russet potatoes are a must for this method. Secondly, because the pressure cooker uses very little water to cook the potatoes, they are essentially steamed, so the starch molecules don’t absorb a lot of water, and instead can absorb a great deal of milk. Lastly, all of the ingredients are combined hot, so the potato’s starch can absorb as much milk as possible, and the piping hot mashed potatoes are at their most delicious.
What Kind of Potato Should I Use for Mashed Potatoes? Many cooking resources will recommend that you use Yukon Gold potatoes for your mashed potatoes. This is in part because of their buttery yellow coloring and in part because Yukon Golds don’t become waterlogged when boiled. My personal philosophy is, if you want buttery looking mashed potatoes, add butter. And if you want the best possible mashed potatoes, don’t change your potato to accommodate a less than optimal cooking method, change the cooking method instead. Russet potatoes are your best choice for mashed potatoes both because they have the highest percentage of starch, and because they have the highest percentage of amylose, a particular kind of starch that unravels when heated and absorbs liquid readily (gelatinizes). Instead of boiling the potatoes so they absorb a lot of unwanted water, use a steamer inside your pressure cooker to elevate the potatoes above the water surface and essentially pressure steam them instead. The Russet potatoes will still absorb some water, but not nearly as much as they would if immersed in water, and they will come out of your pressure cooker piping hot and ready to absorb a lot more milk and butter than would otherwise be possible.
What Should I Do About Green Potatoes? If you are buying potatoes loose, you should not purchase any with visible green on the skins, and if you are buying a bag of potatoes, do your best to check for green skins, but you are not going to know for sure until you start peeling the potatoes. If you notice a green tinge around the edges where you have peeled the potato, that is chlorophyll, and its presence indicates that an undesirable chemical reaction has taken place, and solanine, an alkaloid that is toxic to humans, may now also be present. Solanine occurs when the potatoes are mishandled, first, by exposing them to light, and then storing them at temperatures that are either too high or too low. (Don’t leave your bag of potatoes in the trunk of your car, store them in a dark, well ventilated, cool place – but not inside your refrigerator, that’s too cold, and too wet.)
Fortunately, it doesn’t mean you have to throw out the potato: On Food and Cooking says that the solanine is concentrated primarily in the first 1/16th of an inch under the peel (and in any potato eyes that have formed as well). (Think of the rulers you used in school, one of those little lines was a 1/16th of an inch.) The FDA Poisonous Plant Database confirms that the highest concentration of solanine is in the sprouts and under the peel, that the “. . .interior of the potato contains less than [the average content of solanine in a potato], and too little to cause any toxic effects” and moreover, that solanine is water soluble as well (so discard the cooking water). Lastly, solanine breaks down at high temperatures (for example 170° F / 76° C), and even at low pressure, your pressure cooker is going to easily exceed that temperature. So just peel the affected potatoes particularly well. This can be quite difficult with a traditional style Potato Peeler, which makes a very shallow cut, so consider investing in a Oxo Good Grips Vegetable Peeler, which is not only easier and more comfortable to use (especially for those of us who have periodic carpal tunnel problems), but with a light touch will take off one thickness of peel, and if you exert a little force, will take off a thicker strip of potato. Remove any eyes that have formed, and one or two layers on the outside of the potato, and it should be fine to use.
Can I Use a Hand Mixer or a Food Processor to Mash My Potatoes? I don’t recommend this. When you use an electrical appliance on cooked potatoes, they break apart too many of the potato cells, releasing the starch within, which quickly becomes gummy and sticky. Your potatoes can rapidly develop the consistency of glue or wallpaper paste. Using hand tools like a potato masher or potato ricer is far gentler, with more predictable results: they will break apart and release starch from some cells, but it would be much harder to overwork and ruin your potatoes. Plus using a mixer or food processor is completely unnecessary: your pressure cooker will cook your potatoes so well, and so evenly, you could easily mash them with a fork, small appliances are overkill. (There is one exception to this. If you are making Robuchon style mashed potatoes, where an exceptionally large proportion of butter is added to the mashed potatoes – often 2:1, that is for every 2 pounds of potatoes, 1 pound of butter is added, you could get away with using a hand mixer, but you’d have to add a great deal of butter to the potatoes from the start, to coat the starch granules in fat and keep them from sticking together (much like you combine fat and flour in a roux to keep the flour particles from clumping together). And even then, a potato ricer or food mill would probably be preferable to a hand mixer).
MASHED POTATO TIP: The greater the amount of fat in mashed potatoes, the better the taste and the silkier the mouthfeel. I normally use regular milk for my mashed potatoes, without butter, and allow the family to add pats of butter on top, if so desired. But for holiday meals or special occasions, take the mashed potatoes up a notch by using heated half and half or cream instead. Cream is the richest option, but for a more budget friendly extra treat, use half and half, which is far richer than milk, but a fraction of the price of cream.
2 lbs. Russet potatoes
1 – 1 ½ cups milk, half and half, or cream
salt to taste
butter or margarine (optional)
Electric Pressure Cooker
12″ Silicone Tipped Tongs
Trivet, Vegetable Steamer or Silicone Steamer
Potato Ricer, Potato Masher or Food Mill
Bowl or large container
GREEN POTATO TIP: Potatoes turn green when they have been mishandled and/or improperly stored: they are exposed to light, which triggers photosynthesis, which creates the chlorophyll in and underneath the peel. The green color is an indication that any of a number of toxic glyco-alkaloids, particularly solanine, may be present in the potato. Affected potatoes may also have been stored improperly, either in too warm or too cold an environment. Don’t leave your potatoes out in the trunk or back seat of your car, and store them in a dark, cool, and well aerated place (not the refrigerator, that’s too cold and wet). If you see green underneath the peel, On Food and Cooking says that the solanine is found in greatest concentration in potato eyes and underneath the peel. So just make sure to thoroughly remove any sprouts and remove at least 1/16th of an inch from the potato’s surface. Cooking the affected potatoes in a watery environment and at high temperatures (like in a pressure cooker) will also help as well.
- Peel 2 lbs. of potatoes, rinse them under cold water, and if there is any green under the peel (see for example, the picture above), remove at least 1/16″ around the surface of the potato. Cut the potatoes into large chunks.
- Place 1 cup of cold water, trivet and potatoes in pressure cooker. Cook at HIGH PRESSURE for 7 minutes using QUICK RELEASE.
- Once pressure is released, remove lid at an angle, raising back end up, so that steam and heat are released away from your face. Remove potato pieces from the cooker.
- Heat milk (and butter, if desired) just below the boiling point. Once lots of little bubbles have former at the edge and steam is arising from the milk, its hot enough, you turn the heat off.
- Mash the potatoes using a potato masher, or process them with a food mill or potato ricer. Gently add in a portion of the hot milk, mixing in slowly, adding more hot milk until mashed potatoes reach desired consistency. Add salt to taste.
RE-HEATING TIP: Mashed potatoes are at their very best when first made, but are wonderful even when reheated. They can be re-heated either in a microwave or in a skillet on the stove. For the former, just place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for several minutes. To warm potatoes in a skillet, place a little milk in the pan and warm it over medium heat, then stir in the mashed potatoes and allow the warm milk to gently bring them back up to the proper temperature.
- 2 lbs. Russet potatoes
- 1 ½ - 2 cups milk, half and half, or cream
- salt to taste
- butter or margarine (optional)
- Peel the potatoes, removing any eyes, and if there is any green in the skins or under the peel, remove at least 1/16th inch of the outside of the potato. Briefly rinse under cold water to clean. Cut each potato into large chunks, 2" in size (the chunks do not need to be uniform).
- Add 1 cup of cold water and a trivet or vegetable steamer to the bowl of the pressure cooker. Place potatoes on top of the steamer, making sure the food does not rise above the cut-off line indicated on your pressure cooker. Pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE for 7 minutes using QUICK RELEASE.
- Once pressure has been released, open the pressure cooker by releasing the lid and holding it up at an angle so the steam in the pot is released away from your face. Allow any excess moisture to drip from the lid into the bowl, then put the lid aside. Remove the potato chunks from the cooker using your tongs. Discard any bits that have fallen down into the water and become waterlogged.
- Heat your milk either in a saucepan on the stove, or by emptying the pressure cooker bowl and heating it using the "browning" setting. Add butter to the milk if desired, one tablespoon per cup of milk. You want to heat the milk to just below boiling, without scalding it. Once it has lots of little bubbles around the edges, and steam rising from it, you can turn off the heat.
- Process the potatoes using your potato ricer or food mill, or mash them gently by hand using a potato masher. The potatoes should be soft and fall apart easily. Once the potatoes have been processed, and while still hot, add part of the hot milk. (Remember, you can always add more milk to the potatoes, its hard to get the milk back out.) Slowly and gently stir the hot milk into the potatoes until it is fully absorbed, and repeat until the potatoes reach the desired consistency. Once you have incorporated all the milk you want, add salt to taste.