Mashed potatoes are often the foundation of meals at family gatherings, but when you’re cooking them for a crowd, it can be a time consuming process. The good news is that with a few delicious additions, you can make a big batch of creamy mashed potatoes days, or even weeks, ahead of time and reheat them right before serving time.
In case you’re wondering, there are a couple of easy tricks to getting nice, smooth mashed potatoes without lumps. First up, chose a starchier variety of potato like Russet or Yukon Gold, or a combo of the two of them. Next, be sure to start your peeled potatoes in cold water, to ensure they cook evenly. Speaking of even cooking, don’t forget to stir them once or twice as they bubble away in the pot – the ones on the bottom will cook more quickly. Follow the instructions below to drain, dry and mash the cooked potatoes prior to whipping together with the delicious add-ins. The last tip: dotting the top of your pre-made potatoes with butter prior to reheating will give them that freshly-prepared flavour and aroma that people love.
Peel potatoes and cut into uniform sized pieces (about 1” is ideal). Place potatoes in a pot and add cold water until it covers the potatoes by about 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
Cover pot and bring potatoes to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork; about 15 minutes.
While potatoes are cooking, beat softened cream cheese and sour cream in mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Set aside.
Put the milk in a glass measure and heat in the microwave on medium-high for 45 seconds. Set aside.
Drain potatoes thoroughly then return to the burner on low heat and shake pot frequently for 1 – 2 minutes until potatoes look very dry. Mash potatoes for a minute or two until few lumps are visible.
Add hot, mashed potatoes to cream cheese mixture and beat with an electric mixer just until smooth, adding small amounts of the heated milk as needed to achieve the texture you like – you may not need the whole amount. Don’t overbeat or the potatoes will start to get gluey.
Cut 3 tablespoons of the butter into small pieces and scatter over the whipped potatoes along with the salt and pepper. Beat quickly with the mixer or with a spoon just until well mixed.
Scoop the mixture into an oven-safe dish; don’t pack it down too tightly. If you are making a really big batch, I recommend dividing it among several dishes no larger than 9 x 11 so the potatoes will reheat more quickly and evenly. Little ramekins are fantastic for individual servings or you can also use disposable foil pans.
Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into tiny pieces and scatter over the top of the potatoes. Cover the dish(es) tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
For longer storage, put the foil-covered dish into a plastic bag to prevent freezer burn and seal the bag. Freeze for up a month; let thaw before reheating.
To reheat, bake for 25 - 30 minutes at 350°F, stirring gently several times (smaller dishes will only take 15 - 20 minutes). When the potatoes are nice and hot, remove foil and bake 5 minutes more.
Top with garnishes such as chives or bacon bits if desired and serve hot.
Serves 10 - 12