I love buttermilk: its inclusion in a recipe is often enough reason for me to make a dish, and it brings extra flavor with minimal fat. Buttermilk also seems to be a quintessentially country ingredient. We get ours from Hudson Valley dairies; you may find buttermilk at a farmer’s market or even at a specialty store that carries local products. Dairy farmers like Sam Simons, of Hudson Valley Fresh, go to great measure to maintain the purity of their buttermilk and cream. I have great respect for small scale, high quality dairies and I do whatever I can to support them – as much out of self-interest as anything!
3 pounds boiling potatoes, such as Yukon gold, peeled and cut into medium chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup milk
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ to 1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1. Place the potatoes into a large pot with four tablespoons salt and add cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the potatoes, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn’t boil; set aside. As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them into a colander. Place a food mill fitted with the small blade over a heatproof bowl. Process the potatoes through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth. Immediately stir in the hot milk-and-butter mixture, using a whisk or a rubber spatula. Add enough buttermilk to make the potatoes as creamy as you like. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped chives to garnish.