You can’t hold mashed potatoes directly over a burner, because they’ll dry and scorch. The secret to keeping them hot is to hold them in a covered double boiler or in a metal bowl covered with a lid or foil, set over a pan of barely simmering water. This way, the mash stays soft and moist. Check the water occasionally to be sure it’s not boiling or fully evaporated.
Other Options for Keeping Potatoes Warm
The Kuhn-Rikon Hotpan is a stainless-steel pot with a lid that fits into a bright melamine bowl that doubles as an insulating jacket. I tried it during a dinner party and not only did it keep mashed potatoes nicely warm on the countertop for two hours, but it also freed up a burner. (And a bonus: the bowl looked good enough to serve from.) The 18/10 stainless-steel pan has heat-resistant handles and comes in five sizes, from 1quart to 5 quarts. Prices range from $100 to $200 at Amazon.com. -Lisa Waddle, Associate Editor
Reader Tip: When mashed potatoes are on the menu, I like to make them first and put them in my slow-cooker. I put the cooker on the sideboard, set it on low, and finish preparing the meal. When I’m ready to serve, I spoon just enough potatoes into a serving bowl for one pass around the table. Seconds and thirds remain in the slow-cooker, steaming hot and at the ready. –Rachel W. N. Brown , Mt. Sidney , VA