My old wooden masher (also called a beetle)
Ben wanted to know if I do anything special in making mashed potatoes. I don't think so, but now that I look back over time, some of my earlier attempts were not so great. So, honoring my son's request, here is the method that has evolved over the years in my kitchen.
Peel russet potatoes and cut each into eighths. You can count on about a potato and a half per person. This is pretty generous and will probably result in leftovers, but that's a good thing, right?
Bring potatoes to a boil in lightly salted water just to cover.
Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer until done--I pierce the potato pieces with a sharp knife to test for doneness. I won't give you a cooking time because, as I have found out here in eastern New Mexico (elevation 4200 feet), altitude makes a difference in how long you cook things. I would start testing when they have simmered for at least 10 minutes.
Pour off the water. Turn off the burner. Return the pan to the burner and, using the residual heat, make sure that all of the water is evaporated and the potatoes are dry. Do this by tossing the potatoes in the covered pan then setting it down on the warm burner, and repeating this process until the potatoes have a dry look to them. I learned this part from Ben's Dutch Oma, and she made the best potatoes.
Place about a cup of the cooked potatoes in a mixer bowl. I use a Kitchenaid stand mixer for this, and for many, many other things. Mash the potato pieces in the bowl by hand with a wooden masher (see the photo--if you don't happen to have an antique "beetle" in your kitchen use whatever works for you). Keep adding potatoes and mashing until they are all roughly mashed.
Heat some milk (I'd say about 1/4 cup for every six potatoes or so) and some butter (the amount is up to you, your conscience, and your doctor) in the potato pan until the butter melts.
Using the whipping beater on your mixer, add the hot milk and butter to the potatoes while mixing slowly, then whip them until they are of a consistency that pleases you.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Oma also added freshly ground nutmeg to her mashed potatoes.
You can also add a bit of sour cream but, again, your doctor might want to have a say in this.