Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

The Irish Secret to Mashed Potatoes


Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are surprisingly difficult to get right.   I learned the secret to making perfect mashed potatoes in Ireland, and the Irish certainly know their way around spuds.  I am going to share it with you here.

Great mash begins with using the right kind of potatoes.  There are two kinds — floury and waxy — and they are not interchangeable.   The waxy potatoes are small, new potatoes that are perfect for recipes where the potato needs to hold its shape such as potato salad.  They are also good boiled or pan roasted.  For mashed potatoes, choose a starchy potato — in America that would be a russet (sometimes labeled baking potatoes in the supermarket) or a Yukon Gold.    Three large potatoes will make enough mashed potatoes for four people.  You will also need half a cup of whole milk or cream, two tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper.

Select potatoes that are unblemished and hard as rocks.  I prefer to buy them loose rather than in plastic bags because it’s easier to inspect them for blemishes or green spots.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into uniform quarters.  It’s important that the potato pieces are all the same size so they cook at the same time.

Wash the potato quarters and place them into a pot that is large enough for all the potato pieces to fit in a single layer.  Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by half an inch.   Add a pinch of salt.  Put the pot on the stove at a high heat to bring to a boil.  When the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down and let the potatoes simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until the potato pieces are soft in the center when tested with a fork.

Drain the potatoes.  This is the secret to fluffy, floury mashed potatoes.   Place the drained potatoes back into the pot, cover with a clean, cotton dish (tea) towel, cover the pot and place it back on a very low heat for about five minutes to dry out the potatoes.

While the potatoes are drying, heat cream or whole milk and butter in a saucepan.  Warm the cream/butter mixture until the butter melts, but don’t let it come to a boil.

Turn off the heat under the potatoes.  Gradually add the heated cream and butter mixture — you may not need it all.   Mash the potatoes by hand with a potato masher — do not use a hand mixer or stick blender — or worst of all, a stand mixer.  All of them will turn the starch in the potatoes to glue.  When the potatoes are mashed, taste them and season them.   Since the potatoes were cooked in salt, you may only need to add pepper.  If serving the mashed potatoes family-style in a large bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and add two tablespoons of butter.

Irish Sausage Stuffing

We don’t always eat turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas — sometimes we roast duck or have a crown roast of pork — but we always have my mother’s Irish sausage stuffing. Like most family recipes, my mother does not have a written recipe for this stuffing and has made it so often that she intuitively knows how much of each ingredient to include.   This is my attempt to capture it in writing.  You can vary the recipe to your own taste by perhaps adding some diced apple or using a different type of bread.  My mother often uses boxed croutons and the stuffing tastes just as good.

Irish style sausages are available in ethnic stores butchers or can be ordered online at:foodireland.com, shop.spencerfoods.com or winstonsmarket.net.age.

Irish Sausage Stuffing

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Irish Sausage Stuffing


  • 1 loaf white country loaf cut into cubes to make 6 cups of croutons
  • 2 tbsps. butter
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. Irish sausages
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper


  1. To make croutons: Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Slice bread, trim crusts, cut into ½ inch cubes. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet, toast in preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. Heat butter over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add onions, garlic and celery. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Using a kitchen shears, cut the casing on the sausages to remove the meat. Add sausage meat to the skillet, breaking it up with a wooden spoon to mix with the onions and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until sausages are no longer pink. Add the sage and thyme.
  4. Transfer the sausage, onion and celery mixture to a large bowl. Add 6 cups of the croutons. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth.
  5. Butter a shallow baking dish and spread the stuffing in it. If cooking the stuffing with a roast, add some of the juices from the roasted meat to the stuffing to give it added flavor. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. or until the stuffing is heated through and the top is browned and crisp.