Buttery and creamy, with just the right amount of braised garlic. The best traditional mashed potatoes you will ever eat.
Updated November 2017
3 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup coarse salt, plus more if needed (or half as much if using table salt)
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 garlic cloves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk, plus a splash or two more if needed
1. Pour 4 quarts of water into a large pot and bring to a boil with the lid on over high heat.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, wash and peel the potatoes. Cut large potatoes into fourths, smaller ones into halves or thirds.
3. In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Smash the garlic cloves (I use the flat side of my chef's knife), remove their papery skins, and add them to the saucepan. Put the lid askew and simmer the garlic and butter together over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring them periodically. The garlic should begin to get soft and mild, but should not brown at all.
4. When water is boiling, stir in the salt. Add the potatoes to the pot, put the lid askew and return to the boil. Uncover and simmer the potatoes in the salt water for 20-35 minutes, depending on the size of your potato chunks and the heat of your stove. They are done when easily pierced through with a fork.
7. Add the cream to the saucepan with the garlic and butter, stirring to combine. Simmer over low heat with the lid askew for 10-30 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is quite soft. When finished, remove from heat and pour into a blender. Blend into a thick, creamy sauce.
8. Strain the potatoes and return them to the pan over medium heat. Toss them in the hot pan for 5 minutes or so, allowing them to release steam and dry out, and create a film on the bottom of the pan. Control the heat to be sure the film on the bottom of the pan does not brown.
9. Turn the heat to low. Cut 4 Tablespoons of butter into chunks and stir them into the potatoes, along with the milk. Use a potato masher, fork or rubber spatula to smash the potatoes, mixing the butter and milk into them. Pour the garlic cream sauce into the potatoes and stir to combine. Finish mashing the potatoes with a potato masher for a more rustic dish, or if you prefer a more refined finished product, whip them completely smooth with an electric beater. Add another splash or two of milk if needed in either case. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed (unlikely if you used the amount of salt called for in Step 4).
10. Serve hot, with the rest of the butter on top, to melt into the potatoes at the table.
Credit where credit is due: the creamy poached garlic sauce strategy comes from Julia Child. I can't remember which cookbook, but it's there somewhere. And it's genius.