MeMe’s Mashed Potatoes

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Mashed potatoes are the perfect comfort food dish and our entire family insists that my grandmother make them whenever we have a big dinner.

The reason these are “MeMe’s Mashed Potatoes” is because that is what all of the great grandkids (my children and numerous nephews) call my Grandmother and she makes amazing mashed potatoes (y’all know that nobody cooks like your Grandmother!). I have actually seen my children pull back their plate and ask “Are those MeMe’s mashed potatoes?” as if afraid we might let someone else make her sacred dish (or use another recipe when making them!). When confirmed that they are, in fact, MeMe’s potatoes, they will hold their plate back out and wait on a HUGE dollop!

This post is filled with all sorts of potato and milk information (along with anti-bacterial and roly poly tangents) so get comfy!

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To make them like my grandmother does, you’ll need:

Salt, Potatoes, Evaporated Milk, and 1/2 cup of Margarine, and a little Pepper.

You can use regular milk in these but the difference in MeMe’s mashed potatoes is definitely the evaporated milk, which has a richer flavor. I’ll get into that a bit more later on in this post.

Most old recipes which call for evaporated milk will have it simply listed as “Pet milk” which was (and is) a very popular brand of evaporated milk. My grandmother still calls it “Pet Milk”, but you know I only purchase the name brand under duress :). I have never found a generic that didn’t taste exactly the same to me as the name brand when it comes to evaporated milk.

Although evaporated milk made its first debut in Illinois, it took off like wild fire in the south as soon as Southerners discovered it. Due to our overwhelmingly hot climate, milk spoilage was a particular problem in this area of the country and having a shelf stable milk that would keep even in the summertime was almost too good to be true.

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Wash, peel, and slice potatoes.

Okay, so I actually don’t wash my potatoes but y’all know I like to walk on the wild side.  I peel ‘em and cut ‘em and if they look dirty, give ‘em a little rinse in the bowl (which I did just before taking this photo). I mean, we are about to boil them which is basically sterilizing so blah! on washing them ahead of time. Lets just live dangerously.

Another thing I don’t do is use antibacterial hand soap. I think we’ve gone a bit overboard with the antibacterial mess anyway (have you noticed how we tend to go overboard with every new health trend that crops up?).

Back in my day, kids played in dirt all day long and washed with plain old Ivory or Lifebuoy soap just before dinner – and only then if Mama made them. There is no telling how much dirt I had ingested by the time I got old enough to pay attention to hygiene and quit collecting worms and roly polys in butter bowls.

Although I do have my kids wash their hands on a regular basis (and I am very particular about hand washing whenever food preparation is involved) I think kids need a fighting chance of developing an immune system. Plain old soap along with rubbing your hands together under clean water do me just fine. Besides, I don’t want one of my grandchildren dropping dead one day from accidentally inhaling a dust particle.

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Put a pot of water on the stove and turn it on medium so it can be getting good and hot.

Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water.

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Add potatoes and bring water to a boil.

You want your water to be gently boiling the entire time the potatoes are cooking. How long you cook them here is key. My grandmother uses a pressure cooker to make her deliciously creamy mashed potatoes. In absense of a pressure cooker, I use the old fashioned method of cooking them til they cry uncle – ’bout an hour or so.

Yes, I seriously did say an hour. I’m just shocking  y’all left and right today, aren’t I?

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After they are done cooking, drain them and put in your 1/2 cup of margarine.

I know it may seem like a lot of margarine but honestly, can we ever have too much?

You can use real butter if you’re not as cheap as me.

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Add your entire can of evaporated milk.

I always leave a drop or two in there and as I am walking to throw the can away it somehow manages to work its way to my lips as those few drops just toss right back! I can’t help it. I dearly love the taste of evaporated milk.

Note: Don’t confuse evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk.

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – has had water removed and sugar added. Yielding a very thick and rich product (if my blood sugar would allow it, I’d happily live on sweetened condensed milk – that stuff is AWESOME).
  • Evaporated Milk – has had water removed but no sugar added. However, the natural sugars which occur in milk are more concentrated and this produces a richer flavor (which one reason why I really like in my coffee!) You can actually reconstitute evaporated milk with equal parts of water to have the equivalent of fresh milk.

Although both evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk are more brown in color than regular milk due to the heat in the pasteurization process causing a slight caramelizing to the natural sugars (this change in color is known as the Maillard effect – in case y’all wanted to know – we spent a good week or so just studying canned milk in college). This effect is another reason why I love the taste of evaporated milk better than regular milk in my coffee!

Oh, by the way, did you know that evaporated milk also makes MUCH better macaroni and cheese, too? My family (who I have mentioned several times before must have been dropped on their heads as infants) loves boxed mac and cheese and I always add a little richness to it by using evaporated milk. Pretty much anytime you are making a recipe that calls for milk, substituting evaporated milk will make it just a little bit richer and like most things in life, richer = better. ~grins~

Where was I?

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Add another teaspoon or so of salt. This is to taste. I prefer to under season my food if I am going to be serving it to company, because this allows them to season it to their taste rather than have to eat it according to how I prefer it. I know many people who prefer very little to no salt and many more who prefer twice as much salt as I do!

I also add about 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper. There is such a thing as white pepper which will not leave dark specks in your mashed potatoes, if those bother you. I have never actually seen white pepper but I remember one of my college professors telling us about it just for mashed potatoes.

We actually spent another week studying potatoes ….I used to be able to tell you all sorts of things about potatoes. Now I can just tell you that I really like them mashed like this :).

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Well lookie there! I took a picture of me putting my pepper in! Didn’t realize that…

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Now just use your hand mixer and beat the living mess out of everything until it is smooth and creamy.

I like to do this with my stand mixer and let it run a few minutes. If you are feeling lazy or just want mashed potatoes with a more “country” feel, you can just use a potato masher and do it by hand. A potato masher is this neat little device which I have two of and use for pretty much everything except mashing potatoes…

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This is one of my Potato Mashers
but I tend to use it for meatloaf mixing more often than not…

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My Waffle Head Potato Masher

I can’t think of what on earth I do with this one off the top of my head but I swear I am always using it for one thing or another!

OH, I do use this one a lot for my peanut butter cookies :). Dip it in sugar and just press down lightly to get that criss cross effect without using a fork and doing it the traditional way. Hey, it cuts out one more step!

 

Eat up!!

I’m going to get Mama to make you her fried potato cakes next week so you can see how to make a new dish out of leftover mashed potatoes!

MeMe’s Mashed Potatoes

MeMe’s Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs mashed potatoes (or 7-8 medium sized potatoes)
  • 1 small can evaporated milk (5 ounces)
  • 1 stick margarine (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp salt for water
  • 1 tsp salt for potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut potatoes into slices or large cubes. Fill large pot with enough water to cover potatoes. Add 1 tsp salt. Add potatoes, bring to a boil and boil gently for about an hour or until extremely tender. Drain potatoes and add all other ingredients. Mix with electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
http://www.southernplate.com/2009/02/memes-mashed-potatoes.html

For my mother’s cheese topped mashed potatoes (which I thought were so fancy when I was a little girl!) , click here.

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Comments

  1. Christy says

    I just loved reading your recipe here! I’ve made mashed potatoes many times for myself, instant and REAL. I was invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner tonight and was asked to bring the mashed potatoes. I’ve never made them for anyone else, so I really want them to turn out. I’ve read 100 recipes today and yours is by far the best sounding one. Most recipes were about the same as yours, but I loved reading yours better! :) I think it’s the “homemade” feeling! Can’t wait to start cooking!

  2. says

    Growing up, my favorite food was mashed potatos. When I was ill or under the weather, I always asked my Mom to make them for me. She made hers just like you do and they were fantastic. They are still my favorite comfort food. The dear lady that used to help my Mom around the house knew just how much I loved mashed potatos and she often made them for me. They were good but Mom’s were better. I think she used mayo instead of the butter that Mom used.But being the well mannered southern girl that I am, I told her they tasted just like Moms.It never hurts to make someone feel good does it?

  3. Kim Dyer says

    Why have I never found this site before?! Reading the recipes are like going through my mom’s old recipe box. You know the one – If you pull out a recipe, a hundred are falling out too! We lost mom in May so it’s really nice to see so many of her cooking wisdoms shared by so many. Evaporated milk goes into almost everything!! Thanks for great recipes and a good cry with a flood of memories.

  4. GmaMeMe says

    Thanks for the recipe. It’s great to know there are other “MeMe’s” out there and not all MiMi’s. We also have MeMe’s famous pancakes at our house which really just adds some cinnamon to the batter, but the grandkids think it’s special because it’s MeMe’s.

    Thanks again for this wonderful site and the wit and wisdom you share!

  5. Jessica says

    These are by far the BEST mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Wow. Now I just wish I knew how to make gravy. I hardly ever have drippings on hand, and the versions I’ve made with broth haven’t ever come out well. Could anyone please teach me a simple gravy recipe? I’d love you forever! :)

      • Jessica says

        I’ve been trying to find a good recipe for a beef or chicken gravy that doesn’t need drippings. I’ve tried it many times with broth, but it either doesn’t thicken enough or just doesn’t taste quite right. And I haven’t been able to find a bottled gravy that doesn’t include onions, which my husband won’t eat. So it’s been plain potatoes ’round here for a while. Would milk gravy taste good on potatoes? I’ve had it on country fried steak, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it on potatoes.

        Thanks so much!

  6. Rene' says

    Hi! Can’t wait to make this recipe. I had an old Southern Living magazine with one, but I “lost” all my magazines in a move (husband?). What are the best potatoes to use? I have heard that different potatoes are good for different things, ie: texture, etc. Your help will be appreciated, as I am making these for Thanksgiving. Take care!

  7. Annarose says

    I guess we like extra rich potatoes because I make this recipe exactly like you do except with only 3 pounds of potatoes! My poor pot won’t hold 5 pounds and I think the first time I went to make this recipe I forgot I had a different amount. Didn’t hurt anything as far as we’re concerned though! These really are the best potatoes :D We can practically eat our weight in them. Had them with your “grilled” chicken tenderloins and a raw veggie platter tonight, hard to imagine a better meal!

    • Annarose says

      Oh yeah and for Thanksgiving ONLY I make them with whipping cream instead of evaporated/regular milk! They’re so good and so bad for you but perfect for a once a year treat :D

      • Annarose says

        Forgot to say, we lived in Virginia for a couple years when I was a teenager (late 1990s) and I thought it was SO funny that they had Pet Milk at the school. Like a pet rock! And I remember the slogan was “Pet- You Bet!” which I thought was so unimaginative :D And for some reason I hate the flavor of white pepper. Bleh. It’s not too spicy or anything, the flavor is just extremely unappealing to me. I will take little flecks of black pepper in my food any day.

  8. says

    The waffle head masher is good for breaking up ground beef, to keep from getting large chunks in your roaster full of steamburgers. Pampered chef makes a specific tool for this, but if you don’t have it, the waffle head masher works just as good. Never thought of using it for peanut butter cookies, neat idea.

  9. Sheila says

    Thank you so much for describing exactly what the differences in condensed and evaporated milk really are. I’m a born & bred Southern girl, age 59, who doesn’t use either of these too often. The cans usually expire in my pantry. Now, I’ll try this in the mashed potatoes as they look, sound heavenly!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Linda says

    Christy, I’m going yo make mine like MeMe’s but I couldn’t help notice the round potato masher. I have one that I use for mashing boiled egg yolks for potato salad and to mash boiled eggs for egg salad. I’ve done that forever-it makes them both just the right consistency.

    Thanks for your recipes and the way you’ve added so much to so many people’s lives!

  11. Karen says

    Ok. I read it but I am still shaking my head because I am having a little difficulty getting my mind around the cooking time. One hour — really? The potatoes don’t look that large, so is it because of the quantity? Slow boil. OK So tell me it’s one hour for real. Maybe it’s just one of those days when the gates to my mind got stuck in doubting Thomas land. LOL. Thanks.

  12. Gina Scotten says

    I wonder why I never thought of using evaporated milk in mashed taters. Gotta try it. Love it in mac and cheese. I laughed to read that you also drink the last little bit from a can of it. I always use evaporated to make sausage and hamburger gravies. My grandsons adore it.

  13. Ronda says

    I love your posts. So many of the recipes are the same as my families…..and the stories could have been from my childhood. This is how my Grandma made her mashed potatoes, except she added a heaping tablespoon of mayo and beats them an extra min. For some reason this makes the really fluffy and creamy. It is funny the things we learn, I was also always tought not the scrape the beaters….they have all the strings from the potatoes on them. Thanks for helping to spark my memories.

    Ronda

    PS I use the waffle masher for boiled eggs when making potato, egg, or english pea salad. It is also great for whole pealed tomatoes you are stewing.

  14. Marilyn says

    I made these lastnight and they were amazing…everyone loved them and they were a hit. They said they never had mash potatoes this delicious. Thank you for sharing your family recipe

  15. Marm says

    Canned milk is great in mashed potatoes. I totally agree, but you were right when you said we might be shocked by the amount of time you cook these. I have always thought that cooking potatoes that long caused them to be sticky and glue-like. I’ve had them turn out that way. Do you know what causes that?

  16. LouAnn says

    Now I know I have a southern name, but I am Minnesota born and bred! I love your blog Christy, and am anxiously awaiting your cookbook. With much fear and trepidation I made your mashed potatoes. I cooked them exactley to the recipes specifications. They turned out great! My whole family loves them. It is mostly just my husband and me these days and I not longer keep fresh milk in the house, but I do keep the evaporated on hand for cooking. I’m going to use it in Mac and cheese next!

    Thanks
    LouAnn Loomis

  17. says

    I love to cook and can cook just about anything except Mashed potatoes, I am going to try to make these tonight along with Southern Steak and Milk Gravy!! Yummy!! I really don’t know why my potatoes never tasted just right.. I love all your recipes! I pray you have a blessed day :) Cara Bentley

  18. says

    I remember my mom using margarine too..because we couldn’t afford real butter…but I have since found out how bad margarine is for us.. so we use ALL REAL butter in everything now.. and use the evap milk and just salt.. They are so good.. Margarine destroys the vitamin E in your body… butter does not. :)

  19. Suzie Waclawski says

    I love your recipes and I will be making this soon I use real butter for everything because margarine is one molecule off from plastic. So I just prefer real and you can’t beat the taste…Have you ever made caramel using sweetened condensed milk in a crockpot?

  20. Joyce says

    I am going to try this recipe for sure. I can never get my mashed potatoes to taste the way I remember them as a child, maybe this is what I’ve been looking for BUT I also cannot imagine cooking them for 1 hour. I would think they would become mush but I will give it a try.

  21. Aileen says

    I know this is an old, old thread but I see people are still posting on it so here goes. I’ve made these mashed potatoes twice now and we just LOVE them!!!!!! And yes, I was shocked at the cooking time but it really worked!!! Someone asked about the consistency but they did not turn mushy or sticky for me. I used Russet potatoes like it looked like you used in your recipe, Christy. Also, I always used to put the pot of potatoes back on the burner after draining them to let the remaining water steam off before I mashed them. But I didn’t do that this time, I did everything exactly as you said and now this is the only way I will mash my potatoes! Thank you, Christy!!!

  22. Betty819 says

    I detect that you might be diabetic? Do you have any “diabetic menus” in your cookbook or on your website? I forgot about Luzianne brand tea bags..have been using Red Rose for years..might have to switch. Grew up on “red potatoes” what’s your favorite or which potatoes do you normally use for your mashed potatoes. Only milk we had growing up was fresh milk from a neighbor’s cows and canned milk(Pet or Carnation brand)mixed with water and a little bit of sugar added. What do you do with leftover canned milk? Hard to find the real small cans sometimes.(5 oz.)

    • says

      Hey Betty!! I am so glad to see that you are enjoying browsing through all the recipes and I am so glad to have you here on Southern Plate!! I look forward getting to know you better. I love ALL potatoes and typically I just use whatever is on sale.

  23. Jennifer says

    My mama taught me to always “dry mash” the potatoes first, in the pot, before adding any butter, milk or anything liquid or any spices. She said you had to use a waffle head masher and mash them up dry. Then add your butter and mash, then add your milk and mash, then spices and mash, but not too much. The “S” style mashers make good noodle grabbers, if you can’t find your pasta spoon!

    I love Come Home To Supper as much as my autographed copy of Southern Plate! Thank you so much, Christy, for sharing your sweet sweet spirit with us!!!

  24. Debbie Cowger says

    Christy, use your stand mixer to mix meat loaf! SO much easier. It makes quick business of shredding chicken, too. Plop in your cooked chicken breasts (boneless & skinless), give it a slowish go for a mnute and you have shredded chicken!

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