From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to your dinner tonight, free of measurements and complicated techniques. It's a method you'll remember and whip out whenever you like. It is the most basic way to make the thing you're making—like perfect mashed potatoes.
Wash and peel the potatoes, then cut them into large chunks and place them in the pot (alternately, you can peel and leave the potatoes whole).
Cover the potatoes with cold water by an inch or two and add a generous amount of salt. (You want the water to taste like the ocean.) Place the pot on the stove over high heat.
Once the water boils, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes (longer if you've left the potatoes whole).
Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them rest in the sink while you prepare the butter and cream.
Combine the butter and cream in the pot you cooked the potatoes in. Cook over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted and the cream is hot.
Turn off the heat and add the drained potatoes to the hot butter-cream mixture. Mash the potatoes until they are fluffy and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.