Every cook must know how to make mashed potatoes. There are some critical steps: Start with a starchy potato like Yukon gold or russet, not a waxy potato like red skin. Leave the potato pieces large, at least 2 inches, so they don't get waterlogged and become mealy. Start in cold water so the starches cook slowly and become creamy. The finer the mash, the fluffier the texture.
Swap option: Roasted garlic, chives and wasabi are all fun add-ins to give your mashed potatoes some variety.
Cut the butter into 3 pieces and let soften slightly.2.
Place the peeled potato chunks into a large saucepan; add cold water to cover by 1 inch and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes break apart when a paring knife is inserted, 15-18 minutes. Drain the potatoes well, return to the saucepan and place back on the burner over low heat.3.
Warm the half-and-half in a microwave-safe container for about 45 seconds, until steaming. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until a few small lumps remain. Add the warm half-and-half to the potatoes; using a rubber spatula, fold well. Then add one piece of butter at a time, folding it in gently to emulsify the butter into the potatoes. Season with a two-finger pinch of salt, or to taste. Serve immediately.