Still Life With Wooden Spoon

On the Virtue of Proper Mash
August 30, 2010, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Musing | Tags: , , ,

So, my parents returned home yesterday with a briefcase filled with artisinal, pork-based products from the Joostenberg Deli in Cape Town. Such a thing is not completely unheard of in my family; one of my earliest memories is of my father returning home from the UK with a whole wheel of stilton secreted in his suitcase. Foodiness must run in the blood. This strange, Proustian moment aside, amongst these porcine delights were some packages of rather special sausages (Toulouse and British Bangers). These were simply crying out for some proper mash tonight – a combination which rather effectively banished the Monday blues.

Now, I have mentioned previously that I am a scrambled egg fascist. Well, my totalitarian tendencies also extend to mashed potatoes. I believe that Proper Mash (note the capitalisation) is the cornerstone of western civilisation (note the lack of capitalisation) and, as such, warrants a blog post of its own.

In order to craft the ideal mash, you need to peel and boil a number of potatoes until tender. You could, alternatively, steam them, but there is something suitably Dickensian about a boiled potato. Once this is done – after about 20 minutes have passed – you strain the potatoes, and leave them to drain in a colander. While this is accomplished, you place a rather indulgent knob of butter in a saucepan with a decent splash of milk, and apply some heat until melted and combined. Then you mash the potatoes, combine with the butter and milk mix, and beat with a wooden spoon until gloriously silky. Add a generous grind of salt and some (I cannot emphasise this enough) white pepper, beat a touch more, and you’re done.

If you haven’t scrimped on the butter, and have applied a suitable amount of elbow grease to the whole process, what you should be left with is the most amazing mashed potato of your life. Even the meanest of mean reds (see Breakfast at Tiffany’s) would disappear when confronted with such a dish. Enjoy.