Instant mash, don't knock it until you've tried this storecupboard back up that's always easy to serve.
Whenever the TV does one of its round ups of much-loved commercials from the past, the Cadbury’s Smash Martians always figure.
In the ad, a bunch of tin-bodied, asexual aliens are debriefed by one of their number. He or she or it has just visited Earth and observed how the locals waste a lot of time and effort peeling potatoes and then mashing them.
It renders the Martians helpless with laughter, they roll around the set like audience members at a Peter Kay gig because, as an advanced civilisation, they of course use instant mash.
Today though if you were to tell one of your foodie friends that you use instant mash, they’d narrow their eyes and mentally cross you off their dinner party list.
And yet why not? Basically, instant mash is mash that has had the water removed and nothing more. It’s the same principle as instant coffee and while instant coffee may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is convenient.
So it was with an open mind, and open sneering from my FB friends, that I tried three kinds of instant mash from Idahoan.
They make six kinds, but I had their ‘Perfect Mash Buttery’, ‘Perfect Mash Roasted Garlic’ and ‘Perfect Mash Cheddar Cheese’.
Idaho is the spud capital of the USA, where in 1872 they developed the potato variety Burbank Russet. There are astonishingly over 4000 varieties of potato in the world, each with its own unique characteristics and flavour.
In 1942 spuds were first dehydrated to create easily transportable food for the military. A dehydrated potato took up a tiny amount of space, weighed very little and didn’t rot.
The Idahoan brand came along in 1962 and has been popular ever since.
You need to follow the instructions closely. Obviously, they aren’t exactly rocket science, but the amount of boiling water needed has been precisely calculated and you don’t want to freestyle it.
Too little is ok, you can add some more. But overdo the water and you have an anaemic potato soup. You could perhaps boil the excess off in a pan, but that rather takes away the point of ‘instant’.
I tried the roasted garlic first as we were cooking a rather fine pork chop and I like garlic mash with pork.
It had a good texture, very hard to distinguish from regular mashed potato. I wasn’t too keen on the roasted garlic though, it tasted artificial like those garlic granules you can buy in jars.
I’d use Idahoan standard mash next time and put in some Microplaned fresh garlic.
The same could be said of the Idahoan cheese mash, a slight tang of artificialness. But anyone who has ever eaten cheese in America will tell you that Americans are not too fussy about their fromage.
As an experiment, we also tried making gnocchi.
To be honest gnocchi for me are like polenta; I can’t believe the Italians genuinely like them and it’s in fact some kind of joke.
This was a very easy way to make them though, as by reducing the amount of water in the mix the gnocchi ‘dough’ was not as wet as usual. With a mushroom sauce our gnocchi tasted as good as any gnocchi, but like I say for me that’s not saying much.
So should you buy Idaho Instant mash?
Well it wouldn’t be a bad idea to prepare for any future total lockdowns, although hopefully the Government has learned the error of its ways on that one.
As a backup to when you find your spuds have all turned green, or sprouted alien tentacles, instant mash has its place too.
So really, nothing risible about Idahoan mash, whatever the Martians might say.
Idahoan Perfect Mash is available in six flavours including Buttery, Classic, Roasted Garlic, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon & Cheese and Butter & Herb
RRP £1.50. Available to buy in Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Coop, Waitrose, One Stop and on Ocado.