Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner While Living Abroad – The Mashed Potatoes

Hi everyone. Welcome to my fourth post dedicated to helping you plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner while living abroad. I first wrote about making sure you have all the right utensils and about how to prepare the all-important turkey. I followed up with how to make stuffing from scratch and how to make a delicious river of gravy. Today, I’m going to explain how to make the best mashed potatoes ever!

Mashed Potatoes

Unfortunately, mashed potatoes might cause trouble for some expats living abroad because milk products can be hard to find in some countries, like China. While you can sometimes find milk substitutes (sterilized milk and powdered milk can be used in place of American-style pasteurized milk), there really isn’t a substitute for butter (we will also come across this issue when making the biscuits). So if you are planning to make mashed potatoes, plan ahead and buy the butter online or in the nearest major city.

With this recipe, be flexible. Everyone likes their mashed potatoes a little different (more buttery, stiffer, extra salty, etc.) and depending on how many guests you have, your recipe might need to be adjusted.

As a general rule, you will want one potato per guest. You might adjust this if you have freaking huge potatoes or if you are making a lot of different sides, but it is a good rule of thumb and, really, who care if you make too much. Thanksgiving leftovers are the best.

Scrub, rinse, and rough peel your potatoes, by which I mean don’t worry about peeling the potatoes completely. Potato skins have their own distinct flavor and a lot of nutrients. Of course, you can completely peel them if you want or you could not peel them at all if you like a lot of potato skin in your mashed potatoes.

Uniformly chop your potatoes. They don’t have to be very small, but the pieces should be roughly the same size so they cook uniformly. Cover the chopped potatoes completely with water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, and continue to boil the potatoes until they are all fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

After the potatoes are soft, drain completely. Return potatoes to the pot and use a fork or hand masher to start mashing the potatoes. Slowly add in 1 Tbsp of butter, 1/4 cup of milk per potato along with dashes of salt and pepper, mixing and tasting as you go. This way you can be sure to get the taste and texture the way you like it.

Serve warm.

Of course, this is just a simple recipe. You could use cream instead of milk if you have it, you can top it with chives, or you can add roasted garlic. Be flexible and make your potatoes your own!