|Pesto Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
3 pounds Russet potatoes (about 5 large)
1/3 cup milk, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, diced
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons sea salt (or regular salt)
3/4 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
1/3 cup homemade Pecorino basil pesto (recipe follows), as needed
3 tablespoons Pecorino cheese
Boiling the potatoes:
Peel the potatoes, cut them into 2-inch chunks and place them in a large pot. Fill it with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a roaring boil, they might fall apart). Cook for about 20-25 minutes. The potatoes should be fork-tender. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and let them cool a little (do not rinse and let the liquid evaporate).
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have dried thoroughly, return them to the pot over low heat (to ensure there is as little liquid as possible). Turn off the heat. Using a potato masher or a potato ricer, mash the potatoes. Add milk, butter and 3 tablespoons of pesto. Stir well, using a wooden spoon. Add the buttermilk until you reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and white pepper. Finish with the Pecorino cheese.
Top the potatoes with the remaining pesto and stir slightly to create a swirl. Great with seafood, pork, chicken, lamb, game or beef. Yields: 8 servings
For the pecorino basil pesto: In a mini-blender, combine 1 cup of (10-second blanched) sweet basil, 1 clove of garlic, 4 tablespoons of (toasted) pine nuts and 4 tablespoons of Pecorino cheese. Pulse and add about 1/3 cup (or more) of olive oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.