Choose floury potatoes such as Estima, King Edward, Maris Piper or Desiree. Unless you are making wallpaper paste, in which case you are on your own.
Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Cover with cold water and a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Simmer until soft then drain, but not too completely - they should be wet. Add a wine glass of milk and a knob of butter; cream is lovely, but good potatoes don’t necessarily need it, and you can use skimmed milk and low-fat spread, for a lower fat version. Mash the potatoes or you could push them through a sieve or potato ricer. I break them up in the pan, and then whisk them to a fine puree with a wire whisk.
For Mustard Mash to serve with sausages or ham, stir in a good tblspn of hot English mustard or grainy Dijon mustard.
For Garlic Mash, a tblspn of olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic which you have pureed either with a sharp knife and salt (Elizabeth David looks down frowningly on the garlic crusher) or with a garlic press. Serve with something in a fresh tomato sauce, or grilled chicken breasts and tomatoes.
For Orange Mash, cook potatoes with carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash or swede, top with chopped parsley, chervil or coriander.
For Colcannon, add shredded and steamed greens and top with chopped spring onions and melted butter.
Season all the taste.
Whatever you do to, mash is comfort food par excellence, and can be eaten on its own, or as a topping on a Shepherd's or Cottage Pie. Wonderful at this time of year.