“Secret Weapon” Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Here’s the thing: When you make mashed potatoes, you almost never make them to go alongside a sandwich or a salad or anything else that is easy and quick to put together. Mashed potatoes are inevitably going to be part of a meal that takes some time and effort to make. So the last thing you want to be doing when you are trying to carve your turkey or make your gravy or get everything to the table is the whole draining and drying and mashing and whipping process that goes along with good mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes are great. Sweating over that pot with the beaters and the milk and the butter when you have ten other things to do at dinner time … not so great. And while you can make traditional mashed potatoes ahead of time and then warm them up, they just aren’t the same in either body or texture when they get to the table.

So take a gander at your new secret weapon – mashed potatoes you can (and should!) make the day before and just pop in the oven for amazingly creamy and fluffy smashers that are ready when you are. They are rich and delicious and work equally well topped with either gravy or butter. And the only tools you need are a big pot, a 2 liter shallow baking dish (a gratin dish works wonders here) and an electric mixer.

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Sound good? Of course it does. Keep reading!

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What you need:

1.5 kg (about 3 pounds for you old people) of baking potatoes (see note below)
4 large eggs
1 300 gram tub of ricotta cheese (see note below)
1/2 stick (60ml or 1/4 cup, if your butter doesn’t come in sticks) of butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste

Potato Note: Yes, baking potatoes. I like russet potatoes best for this dish but if you are super traditional and want to use yellow-fleshed potatoes here, feel free.

Ricotta Note: Sometimes you see this labelled as a 250ml (or 1 cup) tub instead. Either way, the standard size package works out to be the same amount. Get the extra-smooth if your store has it.

Peel your potatoes and cut them into quarters (or, if your potatoes are stupidly huge, eighths). Put them in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Once they boil lower the heat to medium low, put the cover on the pot, and cook them at slight boil for 20 minutes. They should be fork tender but not mushy.

Drain the water and and gently shake the potatoes in the pot for a minute over low heat to dry off. Put them aside to cool slightly – you want them warm enough to absorb flavour but not hot enough to cook the eggs when you add them.

While the potatoes cool combine the ricotta and eggs in a separate bowl. With your electric mixer beat the ricotta mixture into the potatoes until they are very smooth. Then beat in butter and season well with salt and pepper.

Butter a 2 litre shallow baking or gratin dish. Load the potato mixture into the dish – you want to fill the dish evenly and fully (no empty pockets!) but not pack the mix in tightly. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge. You want to chill it for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best, and if needed you can do this up to three full days ahead.

To finish, bake uncovered in 175°C (350°F if you roll that way) oven for about 25 minutes or until heated through – they will puff up and get super fluffy while they heat. Serve from the dish on the table. And enjoy.

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