Rachael Ray's Brilliant Tip For Keeping Holiday Mashed Potatoes Warm

While the turkey might be the start of the Thanksgiving table, many people overfill the plate with all the side dishes. According to SILive.com, a recent Campbell's holiday food survey said that mashed potatoes rank as one of the top five Thanksgiving side dishes. Putting aside the best mashed potato recipes, using butter or cream, and even whether gravy should smother the side dish, one aspect regarding the spectacular spuds is universally understood: Mashed potatoes should be served warm.

For many home cooks, holiday meals can be overwhelming. Beyond perfecting the timing for every recipe, the kitchen may not have unlimited burner space, which leaves cooks looking for alternative methods to help keep all the food warm up to service. During a recent interview with AllRecipes, Rachael Ray shared a simple, yet effective method to keep mashed potatoes warm. Specifically, she said, "Hold your mashed potatoes in a bain-marie, or water bath, with a lid on top [and] they stay for hours — days really." Although keeping the side dish warm for days might not be advisable for the utility bill, the concept is a cooking technique that is easy to adapt and avoids scorching the bottom of the mashed potatoes. Instead of lining up the crock pots on the buffet table, consider this gentle warming method. But, far warning, this simple tip will not save lumpy or over whipped potatoes from their unappetizing taste.

Why does a water bath help keep food warm?

When Rachael Ray recommended using a water bath to keep mashed potatoes warm for hours, some home cooks might have been stumped. Although a water bath can be used in baking or with canning, the cooking method does have usefulness beyond that controlled temperature method. Fine Dining Lovers describes the cooking method as a way to cautiously and consistently heat food. In addition, the touch of additional moisture from the warm water can help food not dry out too quickly.

Since the warmed mashed potato food hack is about keeping the temperature of the cooked food, the approach is a little different. As Very Best Kitchen discussed, a few key items are important when using this method. Since the container is surrounded by boiling water, it is imperative that the water does not seep into the other food. Since a strong barrier is recommended, a heat resistance or shatter proof container is best. For the Thanksgiving side dish, the food might be transferred to a serving bowl when it is ready to come off the stove. If the home cook wants guests to give a cheer for some tasty grub, it might be time to give those mashed potatoes a little splish splash in that warm water bath.

How to reheat mashed potatoes

While the holiday dinner might be a feast, cold food is not an appetizing prospect. Still, the juggling act of keeping food warm before it hits the table might be a task that some home cooks fear. Although a good plan and making food in stages can be helpful, reheating mashed potatoes without ruining the flavor is not as easy as it seems. A little caution can avoid serving potato paste at the dinner table.

Home Cook Basics recommends either reheating mashed potatoes in the oven or on the stove. With either method, it is suggested that a liquid, like chicken stock, milk, or cream can help add moisture to the side dish. Since reheated food can dry out, it is imperative to add back in the moisture. While the food should be stirred, it should not be over-mixed after the fact. Over-mixing can release extra starch which can make potatoes have a sticky, gummy texture, which is not appetizing.

Getting warm, tasty food on the table does not require a chef's coat and barking orders from the stove. But, a good plan and smart cooking techniques can make the food on the table appetizing.