Perhaps the most famous chef in recent history was Joel Robuchon, a three star Micheline chef who became world famous for his Puree la Ratte mashed potatoes. This is a very rich, creamy dish that takes more than one try to get right but is worth the effort. I read once that people in Paris would line up at night and gladly pay 50 euros just for a bowl of his mashed potatoes.
Perhaps the most important part of this recipe are the potatoes. Most people are taught that starchy potatoes, like Russets make the best mash. More recently cooks have been using multi-purpose potatoes, like Yukon Gold and Whites that are half way between starchy and waxy. To make Chef Robuchon’s recipe, you must use waxy potatoes. He insisted on using Ratte potatoes, but they are hard to find outside of France. To substitute, you can use Charlotte, Nicola, Desiree, Wilja, Maris Piper, fingerling or red potatoes. You can also use new potatoes (early harvest).
The second critical part of this recipe is boiling the potatoes with the skin on. The next important distinction is how you mash. You need to use a potato ricer so as not to release too much of the starch during mashing.
When done right, you will get a very creaming, slightly loose, mashed potato that is like no other you have ever tasted. It is a sure fire hit for a dinner party, just be sure not to tell your guests how much butter you used. Hint, it’s a lot.
- 1.5 lbs La Ratte potatoes (or substitute)
- 5 oz butter – diced and kept cold until used
- 5 oz milk – heated to just below boil when used
- 3 TBL coarse salt – divided
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Put unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Add 1 tablespoon of coarse salt.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until a knife cuts into potatoes easily and cleanly, about 30 mins above 6,000ft and 25 mins at sea level.
- Drain the potatoes and peel them using a knife.
- Put them through a potato ricer (or a food mill fitted with its finest disk) into a large saucepan. I use a fine mesh strainer.
- Turn the heat to medium and dry the potato flesh out a bit by turning it vigorously with a spatula for about 5 minutes. Before careful not to burn the potato.
- While heating, rinse a small saucepan and pour out the excess water but do not wipe it dry. Add the milk and slowly bring to just below a boil.
- Turn potato heat to low and start adding the cold butter in segments stirring vigorously for a smooth, creamy finish.
- Pour in the very hot milk in a thin stream while continuing to stir until all the milk is absorbed.
- Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Purée the mashed potatoes through your finest strainer (sieve), pushing the potatoes through using a plastic scraper.
- Scoop into a serving bowl and shape the top into spirals using a frosting blade.
Voilà, what could go wrong, right? Except something usually does. This is way harder to pull off than it sounds but give it a try and see what kind of masterpiece you create.