Monday, September 22, 2014
A few nights ago I wanted a tasty side dish for some grilled pork chops. Fortunately I had small red potatoes in the pantry and it was cool enough to fire up the oven to a nice high temperature. Smashed potatoes with nice crispy brown bits on the edges and bottom were the hit of the evening.
These are easy to make and just a bit different from French fries. For one thing they aren't fried, although a generous hand with the olive oil makes 'em extra delicious. For another thing, you can jazz them up with herbs and/or spices, or keep them simple with salt and/or pepper.
Since the potatoes I used were small - about golf ball sized - I boiled them in unsalted water until tender, then cut them in half. If you have to use larger sized potatoes, you might want to cut them into chunks before boiling them. They will cook faster that way. You can make this using small Yukon gold or similar waxy potatoes, too.
The halved potatoes were put on a baking sheet that I had lined with heavy foil and then glazed with olive oil. I've done this recipe using a silicon baking mat to line the pan, but the clean up was really messy. With the foil all of the excess oil gets tossed along with the foil after you serve up the smashed potatoes, which is much easier.
Once the potatoes are on the foil, spread them out. You want about two inches between potatoes. Then use a potato masher or strong metal spatula (pancake turner) to smash the potatoes. You want to partially flatten them, but not smash them into tiny chunks. Take a look at the photo to get an idea of how much to bear down.
At this point you can do as I did and just sprinkle on salt and pepper, and/or you can sprinkle on chopped fresh herb or dried herbs or spices like cumin, paprika or cayenne pepper. I used some dried rosemary. Then drizzle with some more olive oil. Be generous if you want crispy results. You can use flavored oil, too, like garlic olive oil or truffled olive oil if you are feeling decadent.
Place the smashed and seasoned and drizzled pan(s) of potatoes into a preheated 500 degree F oven. Bake for 6 minutes, then check them to see if they are done enough for you. Some folks like the skin to still be a little soft and lightly golden, but others, like Sweetie, like a lot of crispy skin and for it to be nice and brown. If it's not done enough, bake for another minute or two and check again. Keep doing that until done to perfection!
I found that about 5 of the smashed half potatoes was a nice portion, but hearty appetites will require more. These are so good that you may want to start with a minimum of 6 small potatoes and go from there.
I usually start these about a half hour before we eat. That gives you enough time to boil and halve the potatoes, preheat the oven, arrange and smash and season the spuds, and then time to cook them to the best crispy, crunchy, delectable potatoes you can imagine.