Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Ok team, let’s start this one off with some fun facts!

Pounds of potatoes produced on Prince Edward Island per year: about 2.5 billion. 2,500,000,000! No big deal.
Number of days I spent on PEI this summer: 16. 
Number of tasty tuber-based recipes I shared with you while there: Zero, zip, zilch. 

Upload from October 03, 2011

Now, you could run some fancy computer models to try to decipher what all of that means, but I think you just know: I dropped the ball. 

My neglect might have been excusable had I not known of PEI’s potatoey prominence - this tiny island province is responsible for over a quarter of Canada’s annual potato production - but nearly all of my relatives are there. My mom was born there. Our family dog was named Spud. I pretty much bleed potato starch. I have no excuse. 

So I’m here to make things right by making something with potatoes. And with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I figure they had better be mashed. 

Upload from October 03, 2011

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber-like starches, potatoes are nuggets of nutrition. To drown their goodness with loads of butter and cream? Well, there’s a time and a place, no doubt, but when pumpkin pie is also on the menu, to do such a thing would be just silly. So I’m passing along a recipe for mashed potatoes that skips the heavy stuff in favour of the lighter, but still creamy, buttermilk. 

Upload from October 03, 2011

The result: super-smooth, nicely-bitey mashed potatoes that remain worthy of half your Thanksgiving dinner plate but are much more second-slice-of-pie permitting. Which, I guess, means I now need to make some pie. 

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 4 small servings (double it if you’re cooking for 4 mashed potato fiends!)

1.25 lbs thin-skinned potatoes (like Yukon Gold or Russet), peeled (optional) and cut into 1-inch cubes
1.5 tsp salt
0.5 - 0.75 cups buttermilk, warmed*
1 - 2 tbsp unsalted butter
fresh ground pepper
fresh chives, chopped

Put potatoes and 1 tsp salt in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain water from the pot, then return the pot to the stove and cook the potatoes over low for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally, to cook off a bit of the water that remains in the potatoes. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add 1/2 cup of warm buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until potatoes are creamy, adding an additional 1/4 cup of buttermilk if you want a smoother consistency. Stir in butter, pepper, and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt, and top with chives and a bit of extra butter if you so desire! 

Upload from October 03, 2011*First, a higher fat-content buttermilk (3% or so) will make for richer, less tangy potatoes. Second, when warming the buttermilk, take care not to heat it until it’s hot, or it will separate. A quick (30-40 second) spin in your microwave, with a few stops to stir the buttermilk along the way, should do it.

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