My research into various methods of making mashed potatoes continues. An update on my findings:
Using a Crock-Pot (the ultimate slacker appliance) on the Low setting, even overnight, will not cook potatoes (or other root vegetables) completely. It just doesn’t get hot enough. However, cooking on High for around 5 hours seems to work OK. The Crock-Pot probably uses less energy than boiling potatoes on the stove top (I have an electric stove – ugh) and doesn’t heat up your kitchen as much on those hot days when you don’t feel like cooking.
I haven’t yet tried boiling potatoes in the microwave — the batches I’ve been making have been too large to fit in there.
The Yukon Gold batch was mighty tasty.
I’ve tried two methods of mashing: stand mixer vs. food mill. The mixer method thoroughly whips those taters into shape, leaving a smooth texture. I mix them with the flat beater, then the wire whip; if you like your potatoes a little lumpy, just use the flat beater. The food mill (using the coarsest disc) takes about the same amount of time, uses no electricity, and gives you a flakier texture than the mixer – similar to what you’d get using a ricer.
Cleanup: Since I don’t have a dishwasher, washing the big mixer bowl and beater parts is more of a production than washing the food mill. Hand-washing a Crock-Pot is always a pain in the ass because it’s so heavy and slippery, but cleanup after boiling potatoes in it isn’t so awful because there’s no sticky mess. (I always use a plastic liner when making something really nasty like chili in my Crock-Pot.)