Work-in-progress mashed potatoes

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Work-in-progress mashed potatoes
A multi-talented 92 year old Berkeley patient of mine, (and a very good cook), asked that I do something soft and smooth for a recipe of the week. She's not real big on some of the fancier recipes that require roasting and skinning things. To practice for Thanksgiving and in recognition of the fact we each eat 135 pounds of potatoes per year, this week's recipe is an attempt to perfect mashed potatoes. The recipe calls for buttermilk which my patient doesn't like. I suggested she substitute non-fat sour cream. Sustainably farmed russets have a rich deep color and taste good. I have referred before to which provides a ranking of 43 commonly eaten fruits and vegetables based on the number and levels of pesticides found during testing by the FDA over a period of time. Potatoes are #12 on the list. Check it out before Thanksgiving and talk to the farmers at your local farmers market about how they grow the potatoes. This recipe for mashed potatoes uses a ricer or a simple potato masher. For almost all of my 61 years, mashed potatoes have involved my parents' electric mixer or my KitchenAid on high. Only now have I learned that the electric mixers make the potatoes too gluey. Try to make them this way instead. Envision friends and family enjoying them around your table in a few weeks.


  • 4-6 big russets, about 3 pounds, peeled and cut into 1 1/2" to 2" chunks
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp Earth Balance or other lower fat butter substitute
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch or handful fresh chives, minced


In a large saucepan, add cold water an inch deeper than needed to cover the potatoes. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer partially covered until the potatoes are tender, 20 minutes or less. Starting with the cold water helps the potatoes cook evenly. Drain them in a colander then return them to the pan. I tried to just drain the pan with the potatoes in it and too much water remained. Shake the pan over low heat to dry out the potatoes a bit. This is the crucial part if you want fluffy potatoes. Add the Earth Balance a tablespoon at a time, mashing with a masher or wooden spoon. Add the buttermilk a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the chives.

Nutrition Information (per serving)