1/2teaspoonfreshly ground black pepperplus more to taste
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and then dice into 2-inch cubes. Cover with fresh, cold water plus about 1-inch. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.
Drain away the water and return the potatoes to medium-high heat to remove all of the excess water from the potatoes, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the milk or half and half, salt and black pepper. Allow the mixture to warm, but never reach a boil. Remove from the heat until you mash your potatoes.
Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until all have been well mashed. Then, slowly pour in the half of the milk and butter mixture. Carefully stir in the milk mixture until it is well incorporated. Add more of the milk mixture, being sure to only add enough for the mashed potatoes to be light, fluffy, and creamy and to the desired consistency.
Serve with additional butter, salt, pepper and any additional toppings you prefer.
Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Prepare mashed potatoes, cool thoroughly, and place into a refrigerator, freezer, and oven-safe container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months. To serve: if frozen, allow to completely thaw in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before reheating. Top with additional pieces of butter and then reheat in a 350º F oven for 25 minutes.