If you're hosting or attending a dinner and you've been assigned to a dish as seminal as mashed potatoes, you'll definitely want to get them right. Think fluffy, creamy, and indulgent — never pasty, sticky, or worst of all, gluey. It all begins by selecting your potato: Either one high in starch, like a tough-skinned russet, or waxy (like a thin-skinned, yellow potato). My personal favorite are Yukon Golds, which have a buttery flavor and creamy consistency. Peel them prior to cooking, since otherwise they'll be too hot to handle. Boil them until soft, but not yet dissolving in the pot. Once cooked, steam off any remaining moisture completely, as they need to be as dry as possible before mashing.
To avoid a gummy, overstarched mess, mash the potatoes while they're still hot and dry. Never use a food processor or a blender; these appliances tend to overmash the potatoes, creating an undesirably starchy consistency. Don't have time to fix your gluey mess? Transform it into a gratin: Spread a thin layer across a baking dish, top with butter, cheese, and breadcrumbs, and bake to form a crispy top. How do you make perfect mashed potatoes?