Food Fight

Food Fight: Battle Mashed Potato

After last week's Food Fight, in which fans/minions of Jeannine's Bistro cluttered the comments section with with querulous protestations and propaganda, we've decided to take a brief break from pitting one restaurant against another. And inspired by John Gray's inaugural Shameless Chef entry (which had its own fair share of detractors), this week's Food Fight will see two versions of mashed potatoes battle to the death.

In his entry, Gray advocated the use of store-bought and pre-made mashed potatoes in his [very loose] Shepherd's Pie recipe. We very nearly balked at this, as homemade mashed potatoes are not only one of our favorite things to eat, but also one of the simplest things anyone can make. To that end, we visited our local grocery store and picked up a carton of pre-made mashed potatoes and two Russet potatoes, then headed home to prepare them for battle.

Did the homemade mashed potatoes win over the pre-fabricated carton? The results may surprise you.

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Two Russet potatoes cost roughly $2. Along with the cream and butter that should already be in a reasonably well-stocked fridge, and the salt that even the laziest asshole has laying around, this makes for a pretty inexpensive side dish. Caveat: We prefer using red potatoes or even Fingerling when we're feeling fancy (read: rich), but wanted to stick with the same type of potatoes in the pre-made pack.

The entire process of making homemade mash takes around 20 minutes, most of which is consumed by boiling the potatoes, thereby freeing you up for other tasks, like watching Glee or -- more responsibly -- preparing the rest of your dinner. It's quite simple really: chop each potato into large chunks, boil them in well-salted water until tender, drain, add cream and butter (to your personal taste/consistency preferences), mash, add salt (again, to taste) and eat. Don't bother with peeling them unless you have an aversion to the skins or plan on using a ricer; the skins add a nice texture in addition to nutrients.

As for the taste? They taste like home, pure and simple. Four ingredients. Minimal effort. They're velvety and buttery, yet earthy. What's not to love?

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Katharine Shilcutt