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Peel potatoes, if desired, and cut into 2-inch chunks. Place the potatoes and salt in a large heavy saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well.
Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher, an electric hand-held mixer or by working through a ricer.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heart. Continue heating until it starts bubbling; stir and cook, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn, until it turns golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir the browned butter, buttermilk and pepper into the mashed potatoes.