Friday, December 26, 2008

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd - a variation of Big Martha's mashed potatoes, made with real butter, whole milk, heavy cream and cream cheese. These get raves from everybody.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd

When it came time for me to make mashed potatoes for our Christmas Day meal of 30 people, I knew that I wanted to make Big Martha's Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese recipe, but I also knew that essentially I was going to need triple-plus the recipe to feed that crowd, because well most everybody wants some mashed potatoes on their plate, and I wanted to be sure that there were enough for everybody!

I also knew, however, that I did not want to use that much cream cheese. That just seemed way too much cream cheese to suit me, so I made some adjustments with the ingredients and the method to create my own version of make-ahead mashed potatoes to feed a crowd. These potatoes are the most delicious, creamy, well seasoned and lump free mashed potatoes ever, and are always very well received. These are my go-to, holiday mashed potato recipe now!

And, you know how it sometimes seems that no matter how much salt you keep adding, you just cannot seem to get enough salt in your mashed potatoes? Well, I discovered that giving the boiling water a very generous salting really does a great job with seasoning the potatoes. I found that when I got through whipping them, that I barely had to add any additional salt at all! Next time you need to make a big ole mess of mashed potatoes, give these a try. They really are excellent.

By the way, I apologize for not having a picture of the big tray of these potatoes. I could have sworn that I snapped a pic, but honestly we were in a hurry trying to gather up the party stuff and get out of the door with hot potatoes, so I must've only thought I got that picture. I assure you, I made these and they were awesome! So... forgive me for that oversight, close your eyes and picture in your mind a giant commercial sized steam table pan (12" x 20" x 2 1/2" deep) full of those cooked and mashed potatoes pictured above, with melted butter swimming on top. Yummy!

Recipe: Mary's Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 30 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 20 to 30 side servings

  • 10 pound sack of russet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 very large pinches of kosher salt per pot
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature and divided
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and divided
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed and divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream, warmed and divided
  • Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, cold

Fill a large pot with water and as you peel the potatoes place them into the water bath. Once all the potatoes are peeled, drain and rinse, return the potatoes to the pot and refill again with water. Cut the potatoes into uniform chunks approximately 1 inch or so and return to the water as you cut them. Once you've cut up all of the potatoes, drain and rinse again.

Divide the potatoes into two large pots and fill both with enough water to cover the potatoes about an inch. Add two very large pinches of kosher salt to the water in each pot. I find that if you salt the water well, you don't end up needing much salt when the potatoes are done, so do not add additional salt until the end and only after you taste them. Bring the potatoes to a boil, reduce heat slightly and boil for about 20 minutes, or until a fork pierces easily through the potato chunk. Turn off the burner, drain the potatoes, put the potatoes back into the pot and return to the now turned off burner. This helps to pull excess moisture out of the potatoes. You are going to process these two pots of potatoes separately and then combine them together.

Cut the cream cheese block in half, and then cut each half into slices. Place the potatoes into the bowl of your mixer and attach the paddle. Top the potatoes with one full stick of butter and the slices from one half of the cream cheese block. Turn mixer on low and process until the butter and cream cheese are blended in. Meanwhile be heating up 1/4 cup of whole milk with 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Add the cream and milk mixture to the potatoes and gradually turn the speed up to whip the potatoes well. When the potatoes are creamy, check seasonings and add any additional salt and white pepper as needed. Transfer to a super large baking pan. I used a commercial sized steam table pan (12" x 20" x 2 1/2" deep) that my Mama used to use when she catered.

Process the second pot of potatoes in the same exact manner, adding the other full stick of butter, the remaining slices from the other half of the cream cheese block, and another measure of 1/4 cup of whole milk with 1/2 cup of heavy cream, warmed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed and combine with the first batch, stirring together well. Spread out the potatoes evenly into the baking pan. Slice the cold half stick of butter into 1/4 inch slices and scatter all across the top of potatoes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and store in refrigerator until needed. These can be made several days in advance if needed.

When ready to reheat the potatoes, remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature about 30 minutes. If you won't have the space to heat these at your destination, simply warm them in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are steaming hot. Uncover a section, take out a spoon, check to make sure they are heated through, and recover tightly with the foil.

Cook's Notes: I use Idaho russet potatoes, Philadelphia brand cream cheese and Land O'Lakes unsalted butter. If you use regular salted butter, just make adjustments in any additional salt.

To transport, place a very thick towel on top of another baking tray like a jelly roll pan - this second pan is simply for ease of carrying the top hot pan, so be careful that it doesn't slide! Put the hot pan of potatoes on top of the towel. Carry the hot pan very carefully (a few potholders might be handy here) and place the towel with the potatoes on top into your trunk or another very even flat surface in your car. Remove the jelly roll or baking pan from underneath the potato pan so that the potatoes will not slide during transport. Once you arrive at your destination, keep the potatoes covered tightly until right before you are ready to serve them.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on September 11, 2011
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  1. These sound so scrumptious! I have one question, how many servings does this recipe serve? I'm looking to feed 65-70 : }
    Thanks in advance!

  2. Can you keep these heated in a crockpot?

  3. You don't happen to have a gravy-for-a-crowd recipe to go with it do you?

    1. Sure! I have a basic gravy recipe here - you'll just need to determine how many times to multiply it by the cup.

  4. I am hoping to make these for the Marine's in my husbands battalion for an early Thanksgiving/Thank you to the marine's who did not deploy and don't have family close by. I can only imagine how good these are going to turn out with your recipe! :)

  5. I have to say thank you! You made my "assignment" of making the potatoes for a large group for thanksgiving so less stressful!! They turned out wonderful and it was really easy! My 6 year old helped and we actually had fun! So Happy Thanksgiving and thank you again!

  6. I've made this recipe the last 2 years for our Thanksgiving. I'm now the official "mashed potato maker" everyone just loves this recipe. I have to say thank you!

    1. You're welcome!! It's such a good recipe isn't it? I love them!

    2. 3 years later and this is the recipe I still use :)

  7. Have you ever made this into garlic mashed potatoes?

    1. Hi Susan! Not with this big batch, but yes, with the smaller batch (linked above). The only reason is that not everybody loves garlic like I do, and since this is a big batch for holidays, I keep it fairly basic on the seasoning.

  8. Have you done these as garlic mashed potatoes?

    1. I answered above here but I'll paste it in again in case you subscribed for your question! Hi Susan! Not with this big batch, but yes, with the smaller batch (linked above). The only reason is that not everybody loves garlic like I do, and since this is a big batch for holidays, I keep it fairly basic on the seasoning.

  9. Iam preparing for a rehearsal dinner for 50. If I put them in sealing bags how many days ahead can I prepare them

    1. I would keep it at 2 days. Any more than that and I think the quality would suffer.

  10. Thanks for the recipe. I can't wait to make these for Thanksgiving. Would it work to bake these in two 9×13 pana? Can I mix these up the day before and bake them on Thanksgiving? Thank you!

    1. I don't know for sure - I use a commercial sized steam table pan that's 12" x 20" x 2 1/2" deep. It may fit in two 9" x 13" but I'd have a third pan at the ready just in case.

  11. Thanks for the recipe. I can't wait to make these for Thanksgiving. Would it work to bake these in two 9×13 pana? Can I mix these up the day before and bake them on Thanksgiving? Thank you!

  12. If I want to put them in a crockpot should I bake them first or just heat them in a crockpot. How long do you think in the crockpot? This recipe looks so good


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