When Sam asked me to make smashed potatoes, I thought she was referring to the salad. You know, like mashed potatoes but with less mashing? But Sam said no, that wasn’t it. It’s baked potatoes that you smash, season and garnish then put back in the oven until they turn crisp. Interesting, I remarked. And since we had large potatoes, I thought I’d give it a try.
As it turned out, these smashed potatoes are perfect for days or nights when you’re really lazy to prepare a meal. All you have to do is pop the potatoes into the oven and do whatever else you have to do. It takes about an hour for whole potatoes to cook and there’s a lot you can finish in an hour. You take the potatoes out, you smash them, drizzle and sprinkle them with whatever you like, put them back into the oven and when they come out, you have a delicious and filling meal.
What kind of potatoes to use? The kind you use for making salad, the waxy kind, NO, that’s NOT what you want. You want the starchy kind with the more porous texture — the kind used for making fries.
- 4 baking potatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 one-inch cubes of butter , chilled
- herbs that you like
- 4 tablespoons crumbled crisp bacon
- parsley or scallions to garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- Scrub and rinse the potatoes under the tap. Make sure to remove all traces of soil.
- Score the potatoes by cutting a cross about half an inch deep one side. The incision will allow steam to escape so that the potatoes don’t burst during baking.
- Bake the potatoes, cut side up, for about an hour. The actual baking time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes. You may need to check the potatoes after 40 minutes. If a knife inserted at the thickest part goes through without the slightest resistance, it is time for the next step.
- Using a mallet or the side of a cleaver, smash the potatoes.
- Drizzle the smashed potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and whatever herbs you would like to add (thyme is good). Then place a small cube of chilled butter at the center of each potato.
- Return the potatoes to the oven. Lower the heat to 375F and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- You may want to add crumbled crisp bacon to top the potatoes for the carnivores. The vegetarians won’t want any, for sure. Sprinkle with fresh greens to brighten up the dish before serving.