Retrograde redux

Unsurprisingly, I came back from Ottawa with a renewed enthusiasm for playing around in the kitchen, and especially to tackle some of the projects I’d had less success with the first time around. First on that list: retrograde starch mashed potatoes.

This time, I had a better idea of what was essential to the process and what could be tweaked. I peeled and sliced the potatoes, then vacuum-sealed them in an even layer and cooked them in a 66°C water bath for an hour: a lower temperature than last time, but at the top end of the gelation range for potato starch, according to Ideas in Food. Then I chilled them completely in an ice bath and stored them in the fridge overnight, to allow the starch to fully retrograde. Meanwhile, I sautéed the peels in copious amounts of butter, which I strained and stored in the fridge, too.

The next night, I removed the potatoes from their bag, covered them with fresh water, and boiled them hard for 25 minutes, to make sure they were fully hydrated. Instead of a food mill, I put them in a food processor this time, buzzing them until they were a smooth puree and drizzling in the re-melted, potato-infused butter.

I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome: it was exactly what I was looking for from potato puree, with none of the problems I experienced in my first attempt, and none of the problems of a more traditional approach to potato puree. The texture was note-perfect, and the potato-infused butter also added loads of flavour. While it may sound like a big time investment, this method really adds a level of refinement to the dish that really makes it worthwhile.

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