How to Make a Perfect Vegan Potato Puree
Is there any food more comforting than perfectly made creamy and smooth potato puree (mashed potatoes for my American friends)? My guess is you’ve probably experienced a really good potato puree at some point in your life…and I bet you remember it too.
Making a perfect vegan potato puree is not difficult. You only need the correct potato, the right equipment, the right ingredients (fats, seasoning, non-dairy milk and yogurt)…and a lot of patience. I think it is also important to master the technique and follow the steps I have outlined below.
Choosing the correct potato is your very first consideration – and lucky for you, there are very few wrong answers. Take a moment to understand the different potato varieties if you are unclear about which one to use. This will make a huge difference in how you ultimately whip or mash the potatoes…and it will definitely help you to avoid making potato glue.
Personally, I like to whip my potatoes using a an electric mixer with a whip attachment. I like the airiness of the puree and I think the other flavors are incorporated into the potato more efficiently (hence, you need a lot less fat). For this method, I select a ‘mealy’ variety of potato. Starchy varieties only need folding and require a lot less whipping – convenient if you don’t own a stand mixer – however, they will become gluey if you over whip starchy potatoes.
Cooking the Potato
I make sure to cook whole, unpeeled potatoes in a steamer. I think this allows the potato to completely cook through without bursting the starches in the cells. This will help the potato whip into a smooth puree…as long as you take enough time to completely cook the potato. I judge doneness by inserting a knife into the middle – it should easily penetrate the entire potato. The skin will also open in places and form large cracks. This is ok.
Making your Puree
Once the potatoes are completely cooked, you will need to peel them while they are hot. Holding them on a fork is a helpful tip if you’re not fond of burning your fingers. I puree my potatoes through a potato ricer before adding them to the bowl of my mixer. You can use a masher if you don’t own a potato ricer, but your potato puree may have a few lumps. You may see professional cooks on TV shows forcing the potato puree through a strainer. I don’t recommend this because you will need to add a lot of liquid and fat to the strained potatoes to avoid a gluey texture…and it’s not a good idea to whip strained potato puree.
Finishing your Puree
Once you have your puree in a mixing bowl, add your hot liquid (for me it is soy milk and soy yogurt) to the warm puree. Season with a good amount of salt and some freshly grated nutmeg, then begin to whip the potatoes. Start on a slow speed and gradually increase the whipping until you reach a fast setting. Whip for just about one minute, then stop and taste your potato puree. If it tastes flat, then add a bit more salt. If it is too dry, then add a small amount of soy milk and whip again (start on slow or you will be wearing some potato puree on your shirt). Keep tasting and adjusting.
Add Fat Last
The added fat in a potato puree is purely for taste purposes. It doesn’t really bring anything structural to the puree, so in theory, you can leave it out altogether (perhaps add a bit more soy yogurt to increase the fat amount). For me, I like to balance the flavor with a bit of oil. I use about 2-3 tablespoons of unrefined rapeseed oil…or extra virgin olive oil if I’m feeling more Italian. I add this last because I want the texture of my potatoes correct, as well as the seasoning. Once I have these two elements perfect, I move on to satisfy my indulgence.
There are many variations to consider once you have perfected your base recipe. I like to add other pureed vegetables occasionally. My favorites are celery puree (season with sherry wine vinegar), pumpkin (add a pinch of cinnamon) and sweet potatoes.
I also like adding a few cloves of garlic to my steamer with the potatoes. Just puree the garlic with the potatoes to add a nice garlic touch to your puree. Roasting garlic is another great option – especially if you want your puree without oil. The roasted garlic add enough sweetness to replace that sensation from the added oils.
Grated fresh horseradish is simply marvelous. Grate peeled fresh horseradish directly into your finished puree and gently fold it into your potatoes.
1 kilo (a touch more than 2 pounds) potatoes (I use the waxy variety)
350 ml (1 ½ cups) soy milk
100 grams (3 ounces) soy yogurt
sea salt, to season
freshly ground nutmeg, to season
3 tablespoons unprocessed rapeseed oil
- Wash your potatoes well and place the unpeeled and whole potatoes in a steamer basket. Heat the steamer over medium heat until you see steam forming. Cover the steamer and cook the potatoes about 45-75 minutes (maybe longer depending on the size of your potato). The potatoes are done when a knife can easily pierce the interior and the skins begin to split.
- Remove the cook potatoes to a plate. Wait 5 minutes to allow any excess liquid to steam away. Your potato should seem rather dry at this point. Peel the potatoes while they are hot. Immediately puree the warm potatoes – I use a potato ricer to puree the potatoes. Place the warm pureed potatoes in the bowl of your electric mixer.
- Heat the soy milk and soy yogurt until the liquid just begins to simmer. Add the hot liquid to your potatoes. Season well – use about 2 teaspoons of sea salt to get started (you can add more later, but you can’t take any away if you over salt). Add the grated nutmeg.
- Turn your mixer on to the lowest setting and make sure you are using your flat whip attachment. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer. I mix for about one minute, finishing on a relatively high setting. Stop and make any adjustments to the seasoning or consistency. More salt if it tastes flat. More liquid if the puree appears too dry. Whip again.
- Add the oil last and whip the mixture once more.
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