Baked mashed potatoes are a savory dish that involve cooking potatoes twice, often through boiling and baking or double-baking. This simple dish is easy enough for beginners, and can be fancied up with dozens of variations and additions. Choosing good ingredients and the right serving style can help make baked mashed potatoes a signature dish for family dinners or holiday events.
The first step to baked mashed potatoes is to choose the right potato for the job. Traditional white potatoes, such as russets, are a popular choice, but can grow starchy if over-mixed. If planning to serve in a casserole dish, thin-skinned varieties such as red potatoes or Yukon golds can be an excellent option. Baked mashed potatoes can also be delicious with exotic varieties, such as purple potatoes, yams, or garnet sweet potatoes.
Most recipes for baked mashed potatoes call for boiling the potatoes first. The potatoes can be skinned or unskinned for an earthier texture, and are frequently boiled for about 20 minutes. Adding garlic, salt, and pepper to the water can help boost the flavoring process. The boiling process may be hastened by chopping the potatoes into quarters or halves. If the potatoes will be served in their skins instead of as a casserole, they can be baked in the oven for about one hour.
Boiled potatoes must then be drained, while baked potatoes are split open and have the inner flesh scooped into a bowl. To mash the potatoes, use a large fork or potato masher, and mash to the desired consistency. At this point, herbs, butter and milk are added to create a silky consistency. Cheeses, such as Parmesan, cheddar, or mozzarella, can also be added to the mix. Mashing and mixing must be done with care, as over-mixed concoctions will have a glue-like consistency.
Once the ideal mix is achieved, the mashed potatoes can then be scooped into a baking dish, or back into their already-cooked skins. At this stage, the baked mashed potatoes can be refrigerated for up to a day, allowing cooks to prepare this dish ahead of time and finish the baking just before serving. When serving time approaches, a topping of breadcrumbs, butter, and cheese may be sprinkled on to the dish before baking, in order to create a golden, crispy top. The mashed potatoes can then be baked in the oven until the dish is heated throughout and the topping is golden brown. If the dish has not been refrigerated in the interim, the still-warm mashed potatoes can be crisped in a few minutes under a low broiler.