How To Make Mashed Potatoes for Just Two People
- 1 1/2 pounds
Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1/2 cup
whole milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon
unsalted butter, plus more as needed
- 1 ounce
cream cheese or sour cream, at room temperature (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
3-quart or larger saucepan
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Fill medium saucepan with water and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prep the potatoes.
Peel, chop, and boil the potatoes. Peel the potatoes. Cut them in half, then in quarters, lengthwise. Then cut the quarters into thin strips. You can chop them finer, if you feel like it; the finer they are going into the water, the easier they will be to mash later. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and simmer until they are falling-apart tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Warm milk or cheese. While the potatoes boil, choose and warm your dairy. Now, this is decision time. For modest weeknight mashed potatoes, 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 cup of milk will be plenty of dairy. It will help the potatoes be creamy and smooth, and bind everything together. But if you want a more decadent experience, then by all means, dial it up! Switch out the milk for cream, and add an ounce of cream cheese or even a dollop of sour cream. It's up to you. The more fat, the creamier they will be. But whatever you choose, warm it first before adding to the potatoes. Warm the milk or cream in the microwave, and let any cream cheese or sour cream come to room temperature.
Drain and mash the potatoes with the butter. When the potatoes are quite soft, drain them completely and return them to the pan over medium heat. Add the butter and cook for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring the potatoes rapidly and vigorously to help any residual water evaporate. You also want to break the potatoes up and smash them with the spoon. You can employ a fork to help, if you like, but you shouldn't need a ricer or a masher unless you want ultra-smooth potatoes. Just cook, stir, and smash.
Add the dairy and season to taste. When any remaining water has evaporated, and the potatoes are quite smashed up and smooth, it's time to add the warm milk or cream, as well as any other dairy you'd like to throw in. Pour the milk in slowly, stirring constantly. Keep stirring and cooking until the potatoes are quite hot, creamy, and smooth. Turn off the heat, season to taste with pepper and salt, and dish them up! (You can also keep them warm in the top half of a double boiler.)
For smoother potatoes: Once all the milk is incorporated, you can use a heavy whisk, if you like, to break up the last chunks of potato.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This post has been updated — originally published November 2010.