How Many Ways Can You Make Mashed Potatoes

I'm thinking mashed potatoes at the moment. Probably because Thanksgiving is coming. But really I don't need a holiday to think about this dish. I could eat mashed potatoes any time. Any day.

My mother used to make them using what she called "all-purpose" potatoes (or "Eastern" or "Maine"). She'd cook the spuds and use an old fashioned potato masher to get them smooth, then mix in the most fabulous goodies: butter, cream cheese or sour cream (sometimes both), milk and plenty of salt and pepper.

Life is good when you can eat like that.

Years later I read that many professional cooks prefer russet potatoes for mashing. I tried it, but frankly, my Mom's version is much better. So I stuck with all-purpose until Yukon Golds came along. Those make good mashed potatoes too, with the right texture and lots of flavor.

Still, there are other considerations when making mashed potatoes, besides the actual potatoes.

For example, maybe you don't want to include dairy ingredients. No problem. I've made awesome dairy-free mashed potatoes

Maybe you like a crust? Here's a recipe for you.

Other ingredients? Sure. You can mix in roasted garlic or spice the spuds up with horseradish, and lots more of course.

One of our family favorites was when my Mom mixed cooked spinach into the mashed potatoes. She called that "creamed spinach" and that's what I thought creamed spinach actually was until I got to college and discovered there weren't supposed to be potatoes in it. 

In Ireland, justifiably famous for its potato recipes, there's a dish called Colcannon (variation, Kailkenny), which is basically mashed potatoes mixed with cooked cabbage or kale. I'd say it's similar to my Mom's "creamed spinach." And it's just as good. It's also more colorful and pleasing to the eye than plain old mashed potatoes.

Colcannon, Kailkenny -- a terrific dish, especially as a side dish for your Thanksgiving turkey, vegetarian Thanksgiving or on some other day to accompany roasted salmon.


  • 1 medium bunch kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 all-purpose or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk, approximately (dairy, soy or rice milk)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Wash the kale thoroughly, discarding any thick stems. Dry the leaves with paper towels or in a salad spinner. Chop the leaves coarsely. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the kale and stir to coat the leaves with the oil in the pan. Pour in the stock, cover the pan and cook, lifting the cover to stir the ingredients occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the kale has wilted. Remove the cover and cook for another minute or until the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

Cook the potatoes in a saucepan in lightly salted water for 15-20 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher, fork or electric mixer or hand beater set on low speed. Add the butter or margarine in chunks and continue to mash until the mixture is free of lumps. Add the milk, salt, pepper and a few grindings of fresh nutmeg. Stir to distribute ingredients. Add more milk if you prefer a softer texture. Add the kale and stir it in.

Makes 6-8 servings