A few months ago, I found myself roaming the office looking for a three p.m. snack. In the test kitchen, I came upon a still-warm bowl of mashed potatoes left out for anyone to eat.
I took a bite.
The potatoes were astonishingly smooth. Wonderfully creamy. And absurdly buttery.
They were . . . The. Best. Mashed. Potatoes. I. Have. Ever. Had.
I quickly took to our company-wide chat and demanded to know who had made them and what they were.
Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter
The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.
The recipe, developed by Cook’s Illustrated Senior Editor Steve Dunn, was inspired by Parisian chef Joël Robuchon.
In the 1980s, Robuchon transformed basic pommes puree into something sublimely silky and rich. But his efforts were painstaking.
To ensure every speck of starch made it into the mash, he boiled potatoes in their skins and peeled them hot. Next, he passed the spuds through a food mill. Then, he beat one whole pound of cold butter into the mash with a spoon for 10 minutes to keep the fat emulsified. To finish, he stirred in milk and passed the potatoes through an ultrafine sieve.
Steve wanted an equally glorious mash that didn’t involve all that laborious milling, beating, and sieving of the potatoes.
French-Style Mashed Potatoes (Pommes Purée)The luxuriously rich and silky pomme puree served in Paris is the result of tedious mixing by hand and a sinful amount of butter. But does it have to be?
Here is how we made them easier:
1. Use butter and milk as the cooking liquid
Steve boils peeled potatoes in this liquid and then saves it to use in the mash. The potato starch that sloughs off during boiling helps the butter to emulisfy, creating a smooth, silky result.
2. Mill potatoes with the fine disk of a food mill
Steve mills the drained potatoes straight into the reserved milky-buttery cooking liquid (kept warm on the stove). We achieve pillowy-soft results with just the mill so that we can skip the sieve.
3. Whisk potatoes and cooking liquid together
All of the starch in the mix means that there's no need to beat the potatoes for 10 minutes to emulsify them. Instead, Steve simply whisks the potatoes and their cooking liquid until smooth, which only takes a few seconds.
The result is a velvety-smooth, almost-pourable puree that tastes fabulously rich. (It’s no wonder we recommend serving just a small dollop.)
These potatoes are so incredibly good that I implore you to try them.
How to Make Pommes Purêe, the Most Luxurious Potatoes on Earth
- Peel and cut 2 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place potatoes in strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Set aside to drain.
- Heat 2½ sticks unsalted butter, 1⅓ cups milk, and 1 teaspoon salt in large saucepan over low heat until butter has melted. Add potatoes, increase heat to medium-low, and cook until liquid just starts to boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and gently simmer until paring knife can be slipped into and out of centers of potatoes with no resistance, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Drain potatoes in fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Wipe out saucepan. Return liquid to saucepan and place over low heat.
- Set food mill fitted with finest disk over saucepan. Working in batches, transfer potatoes to hopper and process. Using whisk, recombine potatoes and cooking liquid until smooth, 10 to 15 seconds. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Watch Steve cook through his recipe.