8large Idaho or Yukon Gold potatoesabout 4 pounds total, peeled and cut in half
½cuplight or heavy whipping cream or half-and-half (see Note)
4tablespoons(½ stick) unsalted buttercut into pieces, at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add a generous amount of salt, let the water return to a boil, then add the potatoes (the water should cover the potatoes by at least 2 inches). Let the water come to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium, and cook the potatoes, partially covered, until they are very tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot, and place it over medium-low heat. Heat the potatoes, tossing them occasionally, until the moisture is all gone and the potatoes have begun to dry out, but not to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and put the potatoes through a ricer or mash them with a potato masher until they are as smooth as you like them. Return the potatoes to the pot.
Place the milk and the cream in a microwave-safe bowl or pitcher and heat until hot, about 1 minute. (You can also heat the milk and cream in the pot over medium heat before you return the potatoes to it.) Add the butter and the hot milk and cream mixture to the potatoes and stir with a wooden spoon or a whisk until well combined.
You can continue with Step 5 or see the Fork in the Road suggestions for add-ins on this page.
Season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste and stir over medium-low heat until everything is hot and well blended, about 2 minutes.
When you add the butter and the milk and cream mixture to the potatoes and stir at first it will look like the potatoes are way too liquidy. Don’t worry, when the mashed potatoes are returned to the heat they will thicken up.