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Avoid using unusually large garlic cloves, which will not soften adequately during toasting. Yukon Gold, red, russet, or white potatoes can be used—each turns out a different texture. For smooth mashed potatoes, a food mill or potato ricer fitted with the finest disk is the best choice. For chunky mashed potatoes, use a potato masher, decrease the half-and-half to 3/4 cup, and mash the garlic to a paste with a fork before you add it to the potatoes.
- 22 small to medium-large garlic cloves (about 3 ounces, or 2/3 cup) from 2 medium heads garlic, skins left on
- 2 pounds potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup half-and-half, warm
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Ground black pepper
Toast garlic, covered, in small skillet over lowest possible heat, shaking pan frequently, until cloves are dark spotty brown and slightly softened, about 22 minutes. Off heat, let stand, covered, until fully softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Peel cloves and, with paring knife, cut off woody root end. Set aside.
While garlic is toasting, place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1 inch water. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of center of potatoes with very little resistance), 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.
Set food mill or ricer over now empty but still warm saucepan. Spear potato with dinner fork, then peel back skin with paring knife (illustration 2, below). Working in batches, cut peeled potatoes into rough chunks and drop into hopper of food mill or potato ricer along with peeled garlic. Process or rice potatoes into sauce pan.
Stir in butter with wooden spoon until incorporated; gently whisk in half-and-half, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
GARLIC MASHED POTATOES WITH SMOKED GOUDA AND CHIVES: Reduce salt to 11/4 teaspoons and stirring in 4 ounces grated smoked Gouda cheese (1 cup) along with half-and-half; set pot over low heat and stir until cheese is melted and incorporated. Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives.
Recipe reprinted by permission of America's Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.
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