For years I hosted either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for the family at my house…sometimes both. Making dressing (from scratch) and roasting a 22 lb turkey is a load of work. Add freshly made pies (including Gramma’s homemade pie crust) and rolls and a kitchen too small for a helper, and it becomes obvious why, when taste would not be compromised, I took the occasional shortcut.
My daughter, who had come for dinner with her family, popped into the kitchen one holiday as I was making the mashed potatoes, stopped dead, and dropped her jaw open. “When did you start using instant mashed potatoes?” she asked incredulously. I stirred the pot and just smiled, handing her a serving dish to put on the table.
“I always use instant potatoes when I’m doing a big meal like this,” I told her, but she didn’t believe me. You see, instant mashed potatoes lack the creamy richness of homemade, and can have a subtle grittiness…and even a faint cardboardy taste…that gives away their time in the box. The reason my daughter was so shocked is that the way I made the instant potatoes, the taste and texture don’t give their origins away, so it never occurred to her that they might not be freshly made!
2 cups milk
3 tbs. butter (not margarine)
½ tsp salt
¾ cup cream
2 cups high-quality instant mashed potatoes (Betty Crocker Potato Buds recommended)
Heat milk, butter and salt to just before milk boils
Remove from heat
Stir in cream and potatoes with a fork until potatoes are the desired consistency. (Do not whip)
These will get stiff if allowed to sit for any length of time, so do not prepare until just before serving. If they must be thinned out, stir in more cream in ¼ cup increments.