In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water and add 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until fork tender, about 30 to 60 minutes depending upon the size of the potatoes.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Swirl the pan over medium heat until the skins are dry, about 1 minute. Halve the potatoes crosswise. Put the halves in a ricer cut-side down, and press the potato through the ricer into a bowl. The flesh should easily pass through the holes and the skins remain in the ricer. Discard the skin, and repeat with the remaining potatoes. (Alternatively, peel the cooked potatoes and put through a food mill or mash with a hand-held potato masher.) Immediately stir the butter into the warm potatoes, then add the buttermilk and combine well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan until steaming but not boiling. Slowly stir the milk into the potato mixture. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl, or keep warm in a covered bowl set over a pot of simmering water.
For Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the top off of 2 garlic heads, put in a small baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and roast until the cloves are very soft and tan, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic heads to pop out the cloves. Smash the cloves with a knife or put through the ricer, and add to the mashed potatoes.
Use Yukon Gold potatoes for the buttery yellow color and rich nutty taste.
Boiling the potatoes with the peel on intensifies their potato flavor.
Be careful when adding gravy to your mashed potatoes; it is a major source of hidden fats.
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