Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
From Lynne Rossetto Kasper: Use this technique with any kind of flavoring. It's the method that is remarkable and easy. I've done the entire procedure a day ahead and reheated the mashed potatoes in a 375° oven.
From Shirley Corriher: Precooking potatoes at 140-160° and then cooling swells (gelatinizes) and recrystallizes the starch, making it no longer soluble in water, therefore you have fluffy mashed potatoes. A little vinegar in the water adds a hint of flavor and helps prevent discoloration caused by hard water or stem-end blackening.
Richard Wrangham, a professor at Harvard University and author of Catching Fire, studies the role of cooking in human evolution. "Once you start thinking about the importance of cooking -- its supply of energy, its strange distribution compared to natural foods -- it's bound to have affected our evolution hugely, our behavior, our society, our cognition, all sorts of features about us," he says.