Put the cut potatoes into a pot filled with the cold water, bring to a boil, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until a fork or knife pierces the potato chunks easily.
While the potatoes are cooking, put the cream, butter, salt, pepper, and chili paste into a saucepan. Heat the cream until the butter melts, but do not allow the mixture to boil. Keep the mixture warm until you are ready to add it to the potatoes.
When the potatoes are fully cooked, drain in a colander for 5 minutes to remove all excess moisture. It is important to rice the potatoes while they are still hot, because cold potatoes will become rubbery and starchy. Fill the ricer no more than half full. Squeeze the hot potatoes through the ricer and into a stainless steel bowl, being careful that the potatoes do not squeeze out the top of the ricer, which would cause lumps in the mashed potatoes. When all of the potatoes have been riced, stir in the hot cream and butter mixture with a wooden spoon and fully incorporate the seasoning, cream, and butter into the potatoes. Add the chopped chives and serve promptly. If the mashed potatoes must be held a few minutes, keep warm in a double boiler or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and placed over hot water.
Basil variation: add 3 to 4 tablespoons basil pesto or pureed basil leaves in place of chili paste.
Copyright Michael Lomonaco, 1997