The Irish are renowned for their love of potatoes, and mashed potatoes are a staple in most Irish homes.
Traditional Irish mashed potatoes are simply delicious, with just the right amount of butter and cream, to make a fluffy, mouth-watering potato dish, perfect for topping with a knob of melting butter or a dollop of savory gravy.
If you’re longing for a heaping spoon of mashed potato on your plate, then you’ve come to the right place, for an easy recipe tutorial, using my not so secret recipe.
This is how my mother, and her mother before her, made this Irish style mash – a perfect side dish for St. Patrick’s Day and every day.
Before I share my recipe, let’s have a little chat about all things mashed potato.
The first question that springs to mind is why am I sharing a recipe for Irish style mashed spuds and not an American recipe? Is there a difference?
Differences Between Irish And American Style Mashed Potatoes:
You probably think potato mash is the same world wide, and an American recipe is just the same as an Irish recipe.
To the Irish palate, American potato mash is nothing like the spuds we grew up on.
In Ireland we use what we call “floury potatoes” to make our mash. We add a lot less butter and milk to the mash, so the end product is drier, fluffier and definitely not a creamy, soupy mess, like some mashed potatoes served in America.
This is not a recipe for how to make smooth mashed potatoes. The end result is a thicker potato mash, that forms a distinct mound of spuds when served on a plate.
Now, if you like extra smooth, creamy, and what I call sloppy potatoes, then be fair warned, this is NOT the recipe for you.
Sorry America, I just don’t like the mashed spuds on this side of the Atlantic. I know I’m going to take some flack for this declaration, but that’s just the way my Irish palate was trained.
What is your favorite mashed potato recipe?
Trust me, I grew up on spuds. I don’t think I had a dinner without a potato for the first fifteen years of life. Well, I suppose the first six months of life I had a milk based diet, but it was spuds from then on.
My daughter dreams of her Irish Nana’s mashed potatoes. “I love Nana’s mashed potatoes with roast beef,” she says. When in America she longs for those Irish spuds and pre-orders her mashed potato dinner with Nana, which is prepared with love, for her return to Ireland.
And my father requests a potato on the side when he eats lasagne. Now, that’s a true Irishman.
Once when I was home in Ireland, I decided to whip the potatoes with a hand mixer. Not a good decision when working with starchy Irish potatoes. I created a gluey mess, since the potatoes reacted to the vigorous beating and stuck together.
Whipped potatoes is only possible when cooking with waxy, less starchy potatoes.
Do you like creamy and smooth, or dry and fluffy smash?
The secret to the type of mash you cook, is all in the potato variety you choose.
What are the best potatoes for mash?
Now to make Irish mashed potatoes you must choose your potatoes carefully.
There are many varieties of potatoes and all potatoes are not made the same. Some are waxy, some are full of moisture and some are starchy. It’s these starchy or ‘floury potatoes’ that are simply best for creating perfect mashed potatoes.
Stay away from waxy potato varieties including new potatoes, Red Bliss, pee wees, and fingerlings. These potatoes are usually pretty small, and only add to the peeling work load. They’re low in starch and full of moisture, which are not good attributes for a fluffy mash.
Yukon Golds are often recommended for American recipes. They’ll make a creamy mash or a smooth potato mash, but not the Irish mash of my childhood. They’re liked because of their strong potato flavor.
Using floury potatoes is the best cooking hack for perfect Irish mash. I find Russets are good, and Idaho baking potatoes are pretty ‘floury’ also. Choosing a floury potato to start is the best way to make mashed potatoes thicker.
Floury potatoes are spuds that burst open when boiled in their skins. During the cooking process their starches harden and expand, splitting their skins open. The inner potato crumbles into a meal.
In Ireland I choose Maris Pipers, Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks, but alas and alack these fantastic varieties are not available on this side of the Atlantic. And so I make do with Russets or Idahoes.
How to make really good mashed potatoes by not adding too many ingredients?
Potatoes get a bad rap from health gurus all over the world.
I’m not going to turn this post into a debate about whether spuds are good or bad for us, but I simply want to say, that you can keep your spuds less fattening, by adding only a small amount of super fatty ingredients like butter and cream.
Now my recipe is not butter free, or cream free. It simply uses a minimal amount of these ingredients. These are lean, mean mashed potatoes.
And so, without further ado, here’s my best recipe for Irish mashed potatoes, my family’s favorite recipe for potatoes on the side.
Now Irish potato side dishes include other variations including colcannon and champ. However this recipe is for plain and simple mashed potatoes, that are not “dolled up to be fancy in anyway,” as my granny would have said.
Ingredients for Irish Mashed Potatoes:
The ingredient list is simple. This is a recipe for mashed potatoes with added butter, milk and cream.
- whole milk,
- heavy cream.
And of course, you’ll need water to boil the spuds.
Exact quantities can be found in the printable recipe at the end of this post.
Now if you would like mashed potatoes without butter, you can simply eliminate the butter, and add an extra dash of milk, or maybe heavy whipping cream. Go for milk, the fatty cream might be just as fattening as the butter.
Directions for Irish Style Mashed Potatoes:
Here you’ll find step-by-step photographic instructions to help you recreate this recipe successfully.
There are plenty of tips included along the way. Essential steps are highlighted in black, and my ramblings and tips aren’t highlighted. And don’t forget, you’ll find a printable recipe at the end of this post.
Wash the potatoes without peeling them. I don’t peel my potatoes until after I boil them.
You may wonder why I do this. The reason is that I like to retain all the potato starch within the potato.
When potatoes are peeled before boiling, much of their starch leaches out into the boiling water. A starchy scum and bits of potatoes float to the top of the water. Keep the skins on, and you’ll retain most of the starch inside the potato, and have a fluffier end product.
Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water, and turn up the heat, to bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and allow to simmer.
Boil the potatoes for about 20 to 25 minutes until they are fork tender.
Whole potatoes take longer to cook than small cut up pieces of peeled potatoes. You can steam the potatoes using a metal steaming tray, if you wish. Either method works.
When the potatoes are cooked, they will be fork tender.
Strain the potatoes and allow them to cool slightly in a colander. You can cover them with a dish cloth, or tea towel as we say in Ireland, while you prepare the milk.
Meanwhile add the milk and butter to a clean saucepan.
Bring to a simmer over a very low, slow heat.
Do not let the milk boil or your potatoes will have a scalded milk flavor. I only use a very small amount of milk, so keep the heat low to melt the butter and not scald the milk.
If you add too much milk at this stage you’ll end up with sloppy potatoes.
While the milk is heating you can get to work preparing the potatoes.
Peel the boiled potatoes and set on a plate.
Be careful not to burn your fingers as you peel the potatoes. Use a sharp knife while holding the potato with a fork.
Turn the heat off under the pot, then add the peeled potatoes to the saucepan of heated milk.
Use a potato masher to smush the potatoes into the milk and butter. Add some salt to taste and continue to mash.
Add about 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream and mix.
This is where you need to make a decision about the correct quantity to add. The exact amount needed is dependent on how starchy your potatoes are. And that can vary greatly from spud to spud.
Add additional cream as desired, and create the texture you and your family enjoy for homemade mashed potatoes.
If you need additional salt feel free to add it. If you like pepper in your mash, remember that we use white pepper not black pepper in Ireland. Black pepper dots are not very appealing in mashed potatoes.
And there you have it – perfect mashed potatoes for Saint Patrick’s Day.
Here’s the printable recipe.
Irish Style Mashed Potatoes
- 3 pounds Russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 ounce butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream add upto 4 tablespoons of cream depending on how dry and starchy your potatoes may be.
- Wash the potatoes and do not peel them.
- Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water, and turn up the heat, to bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and allow to simmer. Boil the potatoes for about 20 to 25 minutes until they are fork tender.
- Strain the potatoes and allow them to cool slightly in a colander.
- While the potatoes are cooling, add the milk and butter to a clean saucepan. Bring to a simmer over a very low, slow heat. Do not let the milk boil or your potatoes will have a scalded milk flavor. Turn the heat off under the milk and butter while peeling the potatoes.
- Peel the boiled potatoes. Add them to the saucepan of hot milk and melted butter. Smash the potatoes with a potato masher. Season with salt and continue to mash to remove all the lumps.
- Add about 2 to 4 tablespoons of the heavy cream and mix. The amount required depends on how floury and starchy the potatoes are. Do not add too much cream or the potatoes will become to loose.
- Spoon into a large serving bowl or serve individual portions on each dinner plate.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Thanks for stopping by to learn all about Irish style mashed potatoes.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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