If you think long and hard about all the different ways that you can use potatoes, it can start to feel overwhelming. Boiled, mashed, roasted, pan-fried, grilled...AH, the list never ends! Don’t feel intimidated by these little suckers. Spuds are a cheap, easy staple that you can incorporate into your casual, weekday cooking, and honestly, you should. One technique that stands out for me—admittedly a boiled potato newbie, but recent enthusiast—is a crispy smashed potato (not to be confused with mashed potatoes). Super easy, yet undoubtedly impressive, this technique can be riffed on a number of ways and it makes for a uncomplicated, but exciting, meal. The moment I saw Real Simple Food Director Dawn Perry walk through it on Facebook Live, I knew that I had to give this tater technique a whirl myself. Let’s break it down so you, too, can understand the simple beauty of a darn good smashed spud.
It starts with a boiled potato. If you’ve never done this, don’t worry. I hadn’t until last week… I know. I’ll just fire myself right now. The good thing about this process is that it’s painfully easy. Unlike hard-boiled eggs or pasta where it might be in your best interest to keep a close, watchful eye on what you’ve got over the stove, you can be a little bit more laid back when it comes to potatoes.
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First, toss your spuds into a large pot and fill with enough water so that they’re covered with at least an additional inch of water. Salt the water heavily (just like you would for pasta), and bring it all to a boil (uncovered). You’ll know your potatoes are done when you can slide a chef’s knife into one without much resistance (around 20-25 minutes, depending on how high your heat is and how many potatoes you’re cooking). When they’re done, give strain them in a colander, and let them cool. This would be a great thing to do at the beginning of the week so that you have a stock of #boiled #potatoes #for #days.
Once your potatoes have cooled (or you’ve taken them out of the fridge), it’s time to smash them. Using a measuring cup, small saucepan, or any flat, heavy-bottomed kitchenware that you like, gently tap it atop the potato and slowly press down until the potato is about a half inch thick. Voila—you’ve smashed it! Repeat this on your remaining spuds.
Next, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, swirl around some oil. You can use a neutral oil, like peanut or canola, but I like to use extra-virgin olive oil for an added layer of flavor. Gently lay the smashed ‘taters into the hot oil, and listen for that sizzle. Let them cook on each side until they’re golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes per side. Have a fish spatula? Now would be a great time to use it to flip and move around the potatoes. If you need to add some more oil to the skillet as you’re cooking, go ahead and do so, as potatoes soak up oil like a sponge.
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Once your smashed potatoes are looking ultra crispy and FIIIIIIINE, you can finish ‘em off however you like. Drizzle some melted butter and grate some Parm on the spuds for a big, warm, starchy hug. Make a simple olive-y, relish mixture with pitted olives (can’t go wrong with a Castelvetrano), scallions, fresh herbs, red wine vinegar, EVOO, and a little Dijon mustard and spoon it right over the potatoes. Sprinkle bits of crispy bacon atop the potatoes and finish off the whole situation with a fried egg. Seriously, the possibilities are endless—listen to your basic potato instincts and you’ll be sure to smash it out of the park.