Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Sage and Shallots

 

After a weekend of lime tarts and the like, Monday night dinners can be pretty rough.  Just look at what I have to work with:

These poor, earnest little potatoes are doing the best they can.  They are nutritious, can be very tasty, and are incredibly hardy and shelf stable, which means in the winter, they are pretty much always in my pantry. 

Which also happens to be the reason why I hate these little buggers so much right now.  I don’t want potatoes, darn it!  I want tender, sweet, fresh stalks of asparagus and tiny green peas like candy and… oh yeah, limes

Unfortunately, on a cruddy Monday night, the pantry yielded no asparagus, or peas, or anything so wonderful as that.  Just these little nubby potatoes winking at me from the back of the shelf.  Beckoning me, saying, “Come on, one last time before May, for old time’s sake!”

Ok, just this once. Closer inspection of my stores unearthed these little jewels, and history was made. Well, maybe not history, but a recipe was made. 

I wish I could say the result of this experiment was mind-blowing.  For a second when the smell of sautéing shallots and sage hit my nostrils, I was pretty sure I would be able to say something like, “I’ll never make mashed potatoes any other way.”  Not so, friends, not so.  Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious.  The buttermilk gave the potatoes a slight tang and made them taste rich and decadent, even though there wasn’t much actual butter in them at all.  The shallots added a nice sweetness and the sage made the whole dish slightly redolent of Thanksgiving (in a good way?).  These potatoes were very good.  Maybe not mind-blowing, but who wants mind-blowing on a rainy Monday night, anyway?

Don’t answer that. 

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Sage and Shallots

We ate these with some slow cooker ribs, but I bet these would be awesome with roast chicken or a pork tenderloin.

1 ½ lbs potatoes

3-4 medium shallots, thinly sliced

5 sage leaves, thinly sliced

1 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with water and add salt.  Peel and quarter your potatoes.  (If you have larger potatoes or are in a hurry, cut them into smaller pieces.)  Add them to the boiling water and cook them until they are tender when you pierce them with a fork or knife.  When they are tender, drain and let them set for a moment to dry out in the colander.

In the same pot you just removed your potatoes from, melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter.  Add the shallots and cook on medium to low heat, until they are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.  At the sage and continue cooking for one more minute.  In the meantime, warm the buttermilk in the microwave, about 30-45 should do it, but it depends on your microwave.  If it’s easier for you to control the temperature, you could do this part in a small saucepan on the stove top.  You don’t want the buttermilk to be hot.  Just warm.

 

Return the potatoes to the pot and mash them with a potato masher.* Once they are mashed and the sage and shallots are incorporated, beat in the warm buttermilk with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a serving bowl, and if you like, top it with the remaining butter.  You can easily justify this by telling yourself that you could have added the butter into the potatoes in the first place, but didn’t, so it’s all the same in the end.  That’s what I did.  So. Worth. It.

 

 *I think that running the potatoes through a food mill would have been great here.  I don’t have one, so I didn’t.  But if you have one, try it out.

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