This evening's mashed potatoes were more like glue than potatoes. I think I'll give up on mashed potatoes I never get them right.
Awww! Don't give up! Home made mashed potatoes are soooo much better than boxed-mixes.
I'm in the UK so boxed mixes aren't really used over here (we used to have Smash but I don't think you can even still buy that). Thanks for the tips but it's going to be a while before I get over that particular disaster, I don't think DH will be asking for mash anytime soon either given the mess the kitchen ended up in.
OK, so UK based mashed potato advice coming up:
Buy maris piper or King Edward potatoes as a preference (Eddies also roast well), but at a pinch any supermarket bag of white potatoes will do.
Peel your potatoes and chop into "reasonable" sized pieces - about the same size as a plum is good. This tends to be eighths for bigger potatoes and quarters for smaller potatoes. Allow about ten chunks of potato per person (unless they're mashed-potato-aholics like my DH and I, when you increase by at least twice!). Put into cold water and (as above) rinse rinse rinse.
Take a saucepan that gives the potatoes enough room to move about - my favourite mashed potato pan has a diameter that is the same size as the gap between my elbow and wrist (it takes 2 US quarts, according to the scale inside it!) (sorry, I can't put my hand on a measuring device at the moment) and put the potatoes in with enough COLD water to cover them by about a centimetre. This will probably be level with the handle on the pan. Add a little salt to the water if you want to. (This is not essential and I usually leave it out).
Put the pan on a high heat until the potatoes start to boil. This will take about ten minutes or so. Once you've got a nice rolling boil, put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down to halfway. Cook the potatoes for a further fifteen minutes or so.
At this point, the potatoes should fall off a fork if pronged. If they don't, put the lid back on and re-check every minute or so.
Drain the potatoes.
Mash them roughly (I use a ricer as it's easier with my disabilities but a hand masher works fine if you have the stamina), and add a big splash of milk. Mix this in with a wooden spoon. Add a couple of big curls of butter. Mix again with the wooden spoon. At this point, you should have a nice smooth, creamy mashed potato. At this point, add ground black pepper if you want to.
You can buy Smash (in Morrisons, where I shop, it's in the bit next to the oxo cubes) still - it's definitely improved since the bad old "smash martian" days.