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So I have been reading and hearing a lot about Robuchon (to name one) boiling his potatoes skin on to counteract gluey mashed potatoes. When I make my mash though I think it's way easier to peel them pre boiling and simmer the potato skin in the milk that I'm later gonna use to emulsify the butter and potatoes. Normally I have to add quite a lot of milk (2 parts potatoes to 1 part butter and almost 1 part milk) before I end up with a mash that isn't gluey. This makes for quite a loose mash though. Would it be correct to say that boiling the potatoes with the skin on would lower the risk of having a gluey mash with less milk? And if so, then why?

To give some reference to where I found the habit of using the ratios mentioned above I put a link here to a transcript of a Joel Robuchon mashed potatoes recipe. http://greenmarketrecipes.com/vegetables/robuchons_mashed_pototoes.htm

Also I include a link to a youtube video of Tom Aikens, a former chef under Joel Robuchon, who speaks about the question I am posting here. This is the reason for my question in the first place. https://youtu.be/S-Gkne6skXc?t=25m19s

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I've never heard that boiling potatoes skin on makes a difference in consistency, but it's possible. The skin will act a as a barrier to moisture, letting the potatoes cook while absorbing less water. That will only work if you keep the potatoes whole though, cutting them up will negate that somewhat.

While skin in may make a difference the choice of potato makes a bigger difference. Waxy potatoes are not a good choice, neither are dry ones like russets. A medium starch potato is best, like a yukon gold or a maris piper.

Also very important is preparation after cooking. I find using a mixer tends to overwork the potatoes and make things gluey, while most chefs would recommend using a ricer. A ricer does give a great result but it is messy and lots of work. I use a potato masher and do it by hand, which to me is a good balance between speed and cleanup while giving a good result.

  • No waxy potatoes? I have actually always made my mash with waxy potatoes since I thought they would hold on to the starches more effectively which would work against the glueyness? And yes, I do use a ricer. :-) – MotoX Dec 10 '15 at 13:21
  • So you want to get rid of the water? Why not then bake the potatoes in the oven like you do when making gnocchi? To understand this a bit further. Why do you want to have a low water content? – MotoX Dec 10 '15 at 13:34
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    I'm not going to toss up an answer because GdD covers it, but the consistency from boiling is ideal for mashing, and you want some moisture, but not a lot. Use starchy potatoes, don't overboil them (you are probably overboiling them), mash by hand, be sparing with the butter or milk, and if it ends up too liquid, try using salt, pepper, and dried herbs to soak up some of the excess moisture. If it ends up too lumpy or dry, don't add extra milk - add a touch of water, or lemon juice. The amount of milk should be a constant (small amount) and not used for consistency. @MotoX – user2754 Dec 10 '15 at 13:56
  • You do want water @MotoX, it's that waxy potatoes do not give the best consistency for mashed potatoes, although that's opinion. – GdD Dec 10 '15 at 14:36
  • I'm not sure I agree with you on the sparing use of butter @JackLesnie, I like lots of butter and so do many people. It's all subjective of course. – GdD Dec 10 '15 at 14:37
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It is recommended that russet potatoes be left unpeeled if you are going to mash them because if they get waterlogged, the starch granules burst and release sticky amylose. Lower starch (but not quite waxy) potatoes like Yukon Gold are less problematic that way, but they can still get pretty sticky.

For advice on mashed potatoes, see: Mashed potato: start with hot water or cold water?

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