Zuni Cafe Bar
Zuni Cafe Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
makes 3 cups
1 1/4 lbs. peeled potatoes, preferably Yellow Finnish, Bintje or German Butterballs, cut into rough 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream, heated until hot
2 to 3 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
About 3 tablespoons unstalted butter (do not skimp with cheap butter, ericrolph) just melted and still warm
Place the potato chunks in a 2- to 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover by an inch or so. Stir in salt until you can just taste it clearly (scant teaspoon sea salt per quart of water). Bring the potatoes to a boil, uncovered, and cook until very tender, 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the variety.
Drain and rice (best method) or mash while the potatoes are piping hot, then beat in the hot milk, half-and-half, or cream, and then the buttermilk. Finish with the butter. Warming the enrichments is a restaurant necessity, so they won't cool the large batch of mashed potatoes, which would be a lot of trouble to get really hot again without scorching. Since it works just as well at home, it is suggested. But don't heat the buttermilk - it will separate. Whip vigorously, taste for salt, and serve immediately, or keep warm, covered, in a double boiler, for up to 30 minutes.
A handful of torn sorrel leaves and a few scrapings of nutmeg make a nice blend. Or, infuse the melted butter with chopped sage before stirring it into the warm potatoes.
Note: because of the buttermilk, these potatoes age well in the fridge which make excellent leftovers that may be baked atop beef stew or thinned with rich chicken stock to make a simple soup.