What's On the Side: Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

I really love mashed potatoes. (Earth-shattering news, I know.) Quite possibly, they are my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner and the main reason why I like a roasted chicken dinner -- I'll take any excuse to make up a batch of mashed potatoes as a side. My Dad makes the perfect mashed potatoes -- creamy, buttery, and not mashed too much. Of course, making really good mashed potatoes requires a generous amount of milk and butter, so as much as I'd like to eat them all the time, it typically takes a special occasion (or truly tasty main dish) for me to whip up a batch on the side.

Rather than try to match my Dad's mashed potato-making skills, I decided to try out a new recipe. As luck would have it, I had some buttermilk in the fridge, so I used my Internet-searching skills (highly-honed!) to find a buttermilk mashed potato recipe. As is often the case, Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) came to my recipe rescue. I basically halved her original recipe, since I didn't need to make a mountain of mashed potatoes for D and myself. These mashed potatoes are super-delicious. The buttermilk adds an unexpected tang to the potatoes, and the butter and milk add plenty of creaminess as well. I would definitely use this recipe again -- next time I think I'd stir in some chopped roasted garlic and fresh herbs, such as thyme, chives, or rosemary at the end. Yum!

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (printer-friendly version)
makes four servings

kosher salt
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cubed [peeling is optional; I prefer to leave the skin on]
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup organic skim milk
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
freshly ground black pepper
coarse sea salt

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the cubed potatoes and bring the water back to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the potatoes and place them back in the pot.
2. Add the butter and milk to the pot with the potatoes. Use a masher to roughly mash the potatoes. (I prefer chunky mashed potatoes; if you prefer them to have a smoother texture, you could use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes.) Stir in the buttermilk with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 (adapted from this Ina Garten recipe)