Perfect Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Last weekend, as Maxence was walking up the rue Lepic, he was lured into one of the many inviting charcuteries (a charcuterie is a store halfway between a butcher’s shop and a deli). The boudin antillais was tempting, so he bought four small ones. Boudin antillais (a twist on boudin noir) is a specialty from the Antilles, the French Carribeans. They are blood sausages, made with bread, peppers, milk, onions, rum, various spices and, well, pork blood.

It took me a while to try blood sausages. In fact, I tried my first only two years ago, in the form of crunchy ravioli filled with blood sausage, pinenuts and apple, a signature appetizer at the excellent restaurant Les Dolomites, in the 17th arrondissement. If you can get over the main ingredient of boudin, the reward is the unique taste.

So boudins antillais went on the menu for lunch on Sunday. Maxence said we needed purée (mashed potatoes) with this. As incredible as it may sound, I had never prepared homemade mashed potatoes before. From dried potato flakes, yes, but from scratch, no. Having just read “The Man Who Ate Everything” by Jeffrey Steingarten, in which he devotes a whole essay to his quest for the perfect mashed potatoes, I thought myself well-armed to tackle the task.

We walked down to the rue des Martyrs to buy some bintje potatoes, the variety French purée recipes recommend. Back home, I opened the book to Jeffrey’s recipe, but thought he made it sound much more daunting than it should be (the double-cooking, the exact water temp, sheesh!), so I decided to be my ingenuous self and just follow my instincts, following the process outlined below.

About 5 minutes before the potatoes were ready, Maxence heated up a skillet, and sauteed the boudins on low heat. The trick is to avoid submitting them to violent heat — this would cause the skin to burst — but still heat them enough to create a slight crust.

The boudin sausages were scrumptious: crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, with this very peculiar paste-like melting texture, sweet and wonderfully spiced, infused with complex hints of cumin, ginger and a host of other savors we couldn’t quite pin down. The mound of fluffy purée was the perfect accompaniment, providing a stable flavor ground to recuperate on, making the next bite of boudin a new burst of flavor. This delicious meal left us stuffed and happy, ready for a welcome cup of coffee.

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Boudin and Homemade Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4.

Boudin and Homemade Mashed Potatoes Recipe


  • 800 grams (1 3/4 pounds) starchy potatoes (such as Russet or Bintje)
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) milk, hot
  • 55 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Peel the potatoes.
  2. Potatoes, peeled.
  3. Cut them into 1,5-cm (1/2-inch) slices, set in a colander, and rinse under cold water to wash off the starch that has leaked from the cells ruptured while slicing.
  4. Potatoes, sliced.
  5. Put the slices in a medium saucepan, pour in cold water to cover, and add the coarse salt. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat, and cook uncovered, water simmering, for 20 minutes, until tender when tested with the tip of a knife.
  6. Potatoes, simmering.
  7. When the potatoes are cooked through, save about 240 ml (1 cup) of the cooking liquid in a bowl. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan.
  8. Add in the milk, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper, and mash using a fork or potato masher.
  9. Potatoes, mashed.
  10. Add as much of the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to get a creamy consistency. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately.


You can prepare the mashed potatoes a few hours ahead, or even the day before. Reserve more of the cooking liquid, and save it. Reheat the mashed potatoes over gentle heat, adding the reserved cooking liquid to loosen it up.
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  • Clotilde,

    Two things, no… three things:

    1) It surprises the living merde out out me that you have never made mashed potatoes from scratch. It’s so much easier than that guy says; I, personally, would never go back to boxed taters–yeech. I would suggest you try heavy cream instead of the milk (cut the amount you use in half) and put in some sauteed bacon. Ah, heaven. The only other comment I have of that is: I wonder why he has you rinse the starch off the potatoes?

    2) Blood sausages is something I have never tried, but want to. This definitely sounds like something I’d eat. Sausages, in general, are one of my favorite things to eat.

    3) I can’t believe you have a street in France called “rue de Martyrs”. God, that’s great. I never cease to be amazed with France.

  • Blue –

    1. Bacon and heavy cream, I’ll remember that for next time! About the rinsing off of starch, Jeffrey seems to have found that the starch leaking from ruptured potato cells is what causes stickiness in sticky mashed potatoes! I don’t know if you’ve read his essay, it’s really quite funny how scientific he is about it. The whole book is entertaining and really worth reading…

    2. Please, go ahead, try it, and let me know how you like it!

    3. Aaaah street names, I have a passion for them! The rue des Martyrs is called that way because it leads you up to Montmartre. And “Montmartre” really means “Mont des Martyrs” (Martyr Hill – a perky name for a housing development, no?), because Saint-Denis and his buddies Saint-Eleuthere and Saint-Rustique were beheaded there eons ago.

    Puts you in a Halloween mood, don’t you think?

  • I laughed out loud at your “Well, sorry!” comment. I do my mashed potato Nigella-style: butter and milk (or a smaller amount of cream) warmed together and then added to the potato (which I boil and then, so I don’t have to peel them, squeeze through a potato ricer — it’s like a giant garlic press and separates the mash from the peel). My favourite way to make basic mashed potatoes more delicious is to fold in some sauteed onions and shredded cheese (cheddar or, if I’m in America, Colby Longhorn). This mashed potato mixture is great on its own, or as a filling for pierogies (big Polish dumplings).

    I grew up in a Polish family, so was reared on blood sausage! C’est magnifique.

  • Try adding an egg yolk and sprinkle some nutmeg. It’s the way my grandmother always does it. The egg yolk adds alot of flavour and creaminess, and spares you from using heavy cream or any of that, just warm milk will do fine.

    God I miss those boudins in Chapel Hill, back at home in Belgium, they can be found everywhere. BTW, in Belgium, we have two kinds of “blood sausages”. The ones that contain only blood and some kind of starch (like bread or rice), but also the ones that contain (processed) meat. I like the latter too because their texture tends to be a little more consistent (or solid if you want).

  • Leslie

    Mashed potatoes: peel mealy potatoes (the type of spud is important for the starch), boil in salted water until very tender, pour excess water off leaving just a little, mash with Masher (some people rice them but I like the country style), add milk and/or cream, butter (lots), salt, pepper. No garlic in the purist mashed potatoes.

    Good Lord! The flakes of potatoes in the box is suitable only for making wall paper paste and certain starters for sour dough bread.

    A very good dish is to boil half peeled celery root with the potatoes and mash together – add milk/cream, butter, salt , pepper: divine.

  • johnieb

    I make alabaster, a traditional Penn. “Dutch” (Amish) dish; cook 2/3 potato to 1/3 purple top turnips, proceed with milk (cream) and butter. I like it slightly coarse in texture: not what I would consider a true puree, so adjust liquid accordingly. No garlic.
    I think I’ll try the Celeriac though.

  • Rhonni

    My mother always made the potato/turnip mixture when I was a child. Quite tasty!

  • mashed sweet potato is also excellent. Try heating butter in a smallish pan and then adding chopped rosemary and chillis. Allow to infuse in the butter which is on a very low heat for 5 mins or so. Whip into the sweet potato mash. divine. You can also add garlic if you wish.

  • Jackie Brown


    Sorry, I saw this post only today. I’m surprised the boudin antillais was crunchy. Since it is made with pig gut, the outside is chewy and cannot be swallowed.

  • Kyra

    I adore the crunchiness of grilled sausages. I’m surprised that you say that the outside cannot be swallowed, since that’s possibly the part that I like most.

  • I was referring specifically to the real boudin antillais. This one is not grilled, but boiled in water, and the gut cannot be swallowed.

  • Helena

    The best purée recipe comes from my bordeaux friend:
    to cooked, riced, floury potatoes, add crushed garlic, crème fraîche, grated gruyère, milk, salt and pepper. Stir gently over a low flame till the cheese melts. The best of comfort food with the grown up flavours of pommes dauphinoises*. Good with roast chicken, pink cooked lamb, anything really.

    *depending on whether you’re a purist or not.

  • Punky Brewster

    Just perfect !
    Pour 4 personnes, j’ai poussé jusqu’à 800 g de pommes de terre, avec 8 cl de lait, mais en gardant 40 g de beurre et 2 grosses gousses d’ail, c’était trop trop bon :-)

  • Annabel Smyth

    Since you have promoted this….. I find that steaming my potatoes, rather than boiling them, makes a far better mash, less watery. I also use a potato ricer when I’m at home. And just a little milk and butter, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper….. but for topping a pie or something, grated cheese is also good. Or you could use yoghurt or fromage frais!

    Incidentally, I don’t know what it is like now, but back in the 1970s, French instant potato was (just) edible – the British varieties were not.

    • I’ve never tried steaming, but will sometime! As for instant mashed potato, when I was a child we always kept a box at home, and when cooking for myself I could never figure out the proper ratio of flakes to water so usually ended up with glue or soup. :S

  • Helena; nine yrs later….. THIS is how I make my purée de patates – I’m Swiss and I don’t know where this comes from but we just love to add grated cheese. Now that I’m living in France, I got to know the Aligot (made with young fresh Tomme cheese) – but when at home, I just take any savory cheese I have handy. Yum Yum

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