How to make the best mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner

JP McMahon: A lot of butter, and I mean a lot, is the secret to making this dish so delicious

Mashed potatoes: a Christmas dinner staple. Photograph: iStock

Mashed potatoes: a Christmas dinner staple. Photograph: iStock

 

What potato dish to cook at Christmas might seem to be the least of your worries but if you come from a family where you are judged on your ability to cook potatoes (and how many varieties you could pull off for Christmas dinner), then no doubt the fear and trembling is already running around your neurons.

When I attempted to cook potatoes only one way for Christmas, I was told in no uncertain terms that two was the least number of ways one could cook Christmas potatoes: roasted and mashed. 

Duck fat roasted potatoes are one of my favourites, but I also love a buttery mash. But do we need both? Surely there are many other winter vegetables that one can cook: roast parsnips, buttered carrots, steamed batons of beetroot with pumpkin seeds, hay-baked celeriac with almonds, roasted leeks with chive.  

And the sprouts. I almost forgot. What is it about those sad little green balls that make us all go wild each year. I love sprouts at any time of the year, except Christmas. In my restaurant, Tartare, we do a dish of Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and honey that is sweet beautiful bitterness.

My wife regularly gives out to me for undercooking the sprouts. “I don’t want them grey,” I say. “I don’t want them hard,” she replies. Is it only us that argue over Brussels sprouts? Surely, there are better things to think about? What temperature to cook the turkey at (160 degrees Celsius is best), or how to glaze the ham (skin off, score, cloves, brown sugar and honey), for instance.

How to make the best mashed potatoes

I like my mash with a lot of butter. And when I say a lot, I mean at least 500g of butter for two kilos of peeled potatoes. Hell, you could probably get 750g of butter in there. And then, there’s just sea salt to finish. No milk, no cream, no cabbage, no spring onions. Just three simple ingredients: potatoes, butter, salt.

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