The secret to perfect mashed potatoes? Knowing when to stop. Mash potatoes with softened butter and warm milk until they’re creamy but still have some chunks remaining. Thin-skinned potatoes, cut into pieces, cook quickly and are easiest to mash.
Recipe: Creamy Chunky Mashed Potatoes
Leeks can be hard to clean, but they’re worth the effort for their sweet, subtle yet unmistakable flavor. Cooked until very tender, they blend beautifully with mashed potatoes.
The tricks to achieving very creamy mashed potatoes are to not overcook them and to whip them just until smooth (if you overwhip, they’ll get gluey). Serve some of the butter on the side, so guests can determine their level of richness.
Mashed potatoes are even better blended with celery root, which has a gentle but penetrating flavor. Don’t be deterred by the root’s hairy exterior; just trim it off with a knife. This recipe is adapted from one in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (1997), by Deborah Madison.
Recipe: Celery Root and Potato Mash
This is a decadent yet savory way to serve sweet potatoes. If you’re expecting vegetarians, make a couple of potatoes without the bacon. One potato can be enough for at least four people, depending on its size.
Virgin coconut oil is unrefined and cold-pressed, like extra-virgin olive oil, and isn’t hydrogenated. It has a clean, slightly nutty taste that’s delicious in this dish. Deborah Madison, who adapted this recipe from one in a new revision of her book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (1997), likes to use a mix of sweet potatoes, but it’s fine to go with just one kind. Paler sweet potatoes tend to be drier, so if you use them, add more oil.