In the spirit of rigorous open-mindedness, I tested them both for this recipe. and ended up going with the russet. I just liked the taste better. In the same spirit, I tested two different cooking methods — baked and boiled. And the baked version won hands-down. The flavor was just more potato-y. Admittedly, baking takes longer than boiling, but you save time because there’s no peeling or dicing needed.
There are three tools for mashing a potato: the food mill, the potato masher and the potato ricer. Most home cooks don’t have a food mill, so we’ll ignore that. The masher produces lumpy mashed potatoes, but some folks like them just fine that way. The ricer, designed like a potato-sized garlic press, is my favorite of the three. Of course, if you have none of these gadgets in your house, you can just use a fork.
But whatever you do, do not put the hot, cooked potatoes in a food processor, blender or mixer. You will end up with wallpaper paste.
In an effort to slim down this classic recipe, I have used low-fat milk in place of cream or whole milk, with just a touch of butter (you have to have some butter), and a cup of low-fat sour cream, which provides creamy texture and savory tang. It’s delicious, I promise.
MAKE-AHEAD LIGHT MASHED POTATOES
Start to finish: 1 day plus 1 hour and 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
10 small to medium russet potatoes (about 5 pounds)
1 to 11/2 cups low-fat milk
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 chunks
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Use a paring knife to prick the potatoes in several places. Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the oven’s middle shelf until a knife goes through with no resistance, about 45 to 50 minutes. After they are baked, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.