The trick to perfect mash is to not let the potatoes absorb too much water (cook them unpeeled and uncut), and to dry them well - in the drained pan over gentle heat - before mashing. The other trick is to use hot milk instead of cold, which gives a sweet lusciousness that makes people swear you have used cream.
Cover potatoes with cold water, and salt generously. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes until potatoes are evenly cooked. Drain and peel potatoes as soon as you can manage it without burning yourself (the hotter, the better).
Return peeled potatoes to the hot pan over a gentle heat for a moment or two to absorb any excess moisture. Mash well, removing pan from heat if it gets too dry. Add hot milk, beating with a wooden spoon. Cut butter into tiny dice and add a few dice at a time, beating continuously, until potato feels smooth and has a light sheen. Add sea salt and pepper to taste, and stir well. Serve immediately.
P.S. Or swap the butter for extra virgin olive oil, and infuse the milk by heating it with some smashed garlic, finely diced onion, a few saffron threads, or green (spring) onions. For a chlorophyll-green parsley mash, whizz blanched parsley leaves with butter and milk and beat them into the mashed potato.
© 1998 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.