Potato Puree

Please ignore the short rib in the above photo and focus on the cloud of white beneath it. That, my friends, is what we in the cooking industry (or the food blogging industry) call a potato puree. It’s a blend of riced potato innards (Yukon Gold & russets), two sticks of butter, heated cream and milk.

We owe this recipe to Suzanne Goin and her “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” which caused us some consternation two weeks ago when it almost killed us with melted plastic.

But my friend Jimmy was coming over for dinner last Sunday and I wanted to impress: so I turned to page 301 for Suzanne’s “Braised Beef Short Ribs with Potato Puree.” The rib recipe was fairly typical: brown in oil, aromatize with onion, carrot and celery, and deglaze with red wine and stock (plus, here, port and balsamic vinegar). The end result was scrumptious and comforting in this cold weather, but my heart belonged to the potato puree.

I’ve never been a big fan of mashed potatoes probably because, like most people, I associate them with all the bad mashed potatoes I’ve had in my life. Dry mashed potatoes; lumpy mashed potatoes; gloppy mashed potatoes and so on and so on.

The potato puree, on the other hand, is silky and smooth; it’s an almost even blend of potato and fat and that formula, however sickening you nutritionists might find it, is a formula that winning chefs–from Joel Robuchon onward–embrace to the fullest.

Here’s how to enter the world of potato decadence. Boil 1 1/2 pounds of russet potatoes and 1 1/2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes until they are SUPER tender, a knife should go into them quite easily. The last time I made a dish like this, I undercooked the potatoes and that was a big mistake. So better to err on the side of overcooking them: it should take about 45 minutes, says Ms. Goin.

Once they’re cooked, you strain and then set aside to cool. When they’re not too hot to handle or too cold to hold, you peel them. Once peeled, you put them through a ricer. It’s fun!


You rice all the potatoes into a pot:


Meanwhile, you heat 3/4 cup heavy cream and 3/4 cup whole milk in a saucepan and then turn off the heat.

Ok, so now it’s time to fatten up those potatoes. First, turn the heat on to the pan with all those potato shreds and stir around for a few minutes “to dry them out a little.” And then you add 2 sticks of butter, cut into chunks, a little at a time–stirring constantly.


Season with 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt and when all the butter’s been incorporated, you stir in the cream mixture “until you have a smooth puree.” Then taste for seasoning and you’re done!


It’s not the kind of thing you eat every day, but if you’re having guests and you’re making something that needs a starchy base, potato puree is the way to go. Look how happy Jimmy and Craig are:


Potato puree brings out the best in everyone. Make it for the holidays and watch your Christmas gifts multiply. You’ll thank me later.

11 thoughts on “Potato Puree”

  1. This looks amazing, but holy crap, 2 sticks of butter! How many servings is this? Or is this really a secret attempt to kill off the american populace by cholesterol, couched in terms of yummy comfort food?

  2. Hmmm. The quantity butter sounds like it would actually be too much (and I love butter). My boyfriend makes the best mashed potatoes in the world – and the key thing is he cooks them long enough to make me worry he’s ruined dinner. But always extremely creamy and delicious and (I hope) he doesn’t use 2 sticks of butter! So maybe is it the softness of the potato that contributes to the quality? You could try with maybe just 1 stick of butter instead? So curious…

  3. I’m actually planning on making those short ribs for Christmas Eve dinner! You don’t talk about them much, so I’m wondering if they’re really worth it? Suzanne Goin’s description of them in the book makes them sound amazing, but do they live up to it?

    I would make the potato puree as well, but I’ve decided on the Barefoot Contessa Parmesan Smashed Potatoes instead, which are outstanding!

  4. The undying praise of Suzanne Goin’s book seems to go on and on (despite the plastic fiasco). Would you recommend her book above all others? I am in desperate need of some Christmas-break reading.

  5. i made the exact same dish for my holiday shindig and i love suzanne goin. period!. everyone loved the potato puree as well, however i didn’t have a tamis on hand as she had suggested putting the potatoes through it…twice. mine was more of a rustic potato puree, but it was still more of a puree then mashed potatoes. also after reading my fellow bloggers post, i guess the pureed potato was being eaten everyone this holiday season. =)

  6. That looks heavenly. The best mashed potatoes I ever made included a portion (1/3? 1/2?) of boiled celery root (aka celeriac). It lightened the heaviness of the starch, but maintained the creaminess of the potato. It’s no mistake that celery and potato are often paired!

  7. Congratulations for a lovely recipe. Mashed potatoes are heavenly and vastly underrated. Also no worse than fries when it comes to calories and so much more subtle. Additional comments:

    Puree is all the better if the potatoes are cooked with the skin on;

    Smooth texture is one way to go with purees, but some people (me included)like a varied texture, so that one can omit the ricer and just use a potato masher as long as one wants to get to a slightly lumpy puree. That also enables one to limit the cooking time, so as to preserve the maximum of flavour and nutrients.

    One can achieve a very different but equally delicious flavour by using olive oil instead of the milk and cream.

  8. I feel like this takes away so much from the potatoes. I personally boil them in chunks until tender. Then use a hand mixer (like a Bamix) to puree them with a half cup of heavy cream and 2 teaspoons of cream cheese, fresh chives, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. It takes a bit of elbow grease to get a nice creamy smooth (but thick) puree out of your potatoes this way but you maintain the integrity of the potato and you don’t overload yourself with butter and cream.

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