Make-ahead mashed potatoes
5 pounds russet baking potatoes (about 9 medium), scrubbed and poked several times with fork
3 cups heavy cream, hot
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Salt and ground black pepper
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Microwave potatoes on high power for 16 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking time. Transfer potatoes to oven and place them directly on hot oven rack. Bake until skewer glides easily through flesh, about 30 minutes, flipping over halfway through baking time (do not undercook).
  3. Remove potatoes from oven and cut each potato in half lengthwise. Using oven mitt or folded kitchen towel to hold hot potatoes, scoop out all of flesh from each potato half into medium bowl. Break cooked potato flesh down into small pieces using fork, potato masher, or rubber spatula.
  4. Transfer half of potatoes to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat potatoes on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds, gradually adding rest of potatoes to incorporate, until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping mixer to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
  5. Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in 2 cups cream, followed by butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Gently fold in up to ½ cup more cream as needed to reach desired serving consistency. Once desired consistency is reached, gently fold in additional ½ cup cream (potatoes will be quite loose).
TO STORE: Transfer mashed potatoes to large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.
TO SERVE: Poke holes in plastic wrap with tip of knife and microwave at medium-high power until potatoes are hot, about 14 minutes, stirring halfway through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, transfer to serving bowl, and serve forth.
Be sure to bake the potatoes until they are completely tender; err on the side of over- rather than undercooking. To serve the potatoes immediately, omit the extra ½ cup cream in step 5.

Serves 8 to 10

From Cook's Illustrated Fall Entertaining, Fall 2008.