A potato ricer is a kitchen implement used to break down potatoes so that they can be free of lumps when used in dishes, such as mashed potatoes. While there are numerous cooking tools on the market that are used to help mash potatoes, a basic masher could leave small lumps of potatoes. To achieve a creamy-smooth texture, a potato ricer typically is the best bet. Most potato ricers are comprised of two parts that operate in a scissoring, hinging motion and are made of either metal or plastic.
The first part of a potato ricer is either a square or round vessel — typically on the bottom of the device — where the cooked potatoes are placed. A grated panel is on the bottom where the mashed potatoes exit the tool. The second part is the plunger, or press. It has a handle with a flat plate on the top and is hinged to the bottom piece.
To use a potato ricer, the potatoes are placed in the vessel, the top piece is depressed, and the potatoes are forced through the grate. They typically resemble tiny worms as they exit the grate. Once they have been riced into a bowl, they can be mixed together and turned into a creamy potato casserole or mashed potato dish.
There are a few tips and tricks to using a potato ricer. Generally, potatoes must be peeled and boiled prior to being riced. For best results, the potatoes typically should be boiled to the point that they are easily pierced with a fork. Placing the potatoes in the ricer in small batches can make it easier to depress the plunger. If this is a tool that will be used often, investing in a high-quality product that won't rust or come apart can be a good idea as well. Using a potato ricer is only one part of the equation: other work typically is required to achieve mashed potato success, such as added ingredients and hand-working the final product.
A potato casserole that is made with potatoes that have been through a potato ricer could be the hit of any dinner. The consistent, smooth texture is quite hard to achieve by hand. Even a hand mixer does not deliver the same uniform texture. For any self-proclaimed chef, a potato ricer usually is an essential cooking utensil.