When I first came upon this smashed potatoes recipe on Williams-Sonoma, I had two thoughts: 1. the instructions seemed a bit lengthy and specific for a potato recipe, and 2. I have yet to try a smashed potatoes recipe I really liked. All of the previous recipes I tried disappointed on either tenderness or crunch: they were either crunchy yet gluey, or a limp mass strewn across the plate. I wanted a potato with a crunchy exterior and a tender, almost creamy, interior. I’m not fond of complicated recipes when just throwing a potato in the oven by itself yields delicious results, but I grow bored of baked potatoes. I wanted something more interesting, so I decided to give this a try. Also, our friends Ellen and Ivan generously gave us a tri-tip so I needed a suitably traditional accompaniment. Meat and potatoes it is.
I deviated from the WS recipe a bit and was rewarded fantastically. These potatoes satisfied the part of my soul that longs for grown-up French fries. They were golden and creamy and crunchy and everything that they should be. I did not mind the extra care they required. They were worth it.
A few notes:
– The original recipe calls for drying your potatoes in a baking pan on towels. You do need really dry potatoes in order for them to sear and crunch, but I found this step a bit superfluous. Mine dried just fine in the colander, and they cooled down sufficiently as well. Whether or not you do this step is up to you and how dry your potatoes are after draining. I left them in there while I heated the oil and fried the sprigs. Maybe ten minutes, tops.
– This recipe calls for a meat tenderizer, of which I own two due to my incessant thrifting of vintage kitchen gadgets. Don’t have one? No worries. You can use a small frying pan, a small plate, or the bottom of a large mug or bowl. I wish I would have tried one of those as opposed to my wooden tenderizer. The metal would have been ideal but you need a smooth surface so I went with wood. I think the potatoes would have smashed more attractively if I used something wider that would have distributed the pressure more evenly.
– The original recipe calls for fresh and dried rosemary plus fresh thyme and parsley. I really preferred it with just the rosemary but double the called for amount. Fresh rosemary isn’t as potent dried rosemary, and I felt that the other flavors just got in the way. Dill would be nice, too, but I’m a sucker for dill and potatoes. But I wouldn’t add too many herbs because it masks the rosemary flavor, which should be the star.
- 2-3 lbs baby (or otherwise small) Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, 3-4 inches each
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbs butter
- salt & pepper
– If you aren’t planning on serving these potatoes right away, preheat your oven to 200 F so you can slide your finished dish inside to stay warm until you’re ready to eat.
– Fill a large pot with enough salted water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil using high heat and then lower to medium to simmer the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes. You want them to be fork-tender but not to yielding that they immediately fall apart when you lift them from the water.
– Drain potatoes well in a colander. Blot with a cotton or paper towel if necessary, or lay out to dry.
– Using the smooth side of a meat tenderizer, small frying pan, or large mug, press down on the top of the potatoes to gently smash the potatoes. Don’t worry if yours don’t look as nice as the Williams-Sonoma version. Mine certainly didn’t, but they were delicious.
– On the stove, heat a stainless-steel griddle pan (WS version) or a regular skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and your rosemary sprig(s) and fry until crisp — about 2 minutes. I used rosemary from my garden that I kept fresh in the fridge using this method. If you do this, or something similar, just be sure your rosemary is very dry before you put it in the oil. It will fry crisper and faster, and more importantly, you will not get tons of hot oil splatters everywhere. Remove sprig(s) and set aside when done.
– Sear the potatoes for about 3 minutes a side. Turn them only once so as not to disturb the browning action. WS suggests working in batches, but all the potatoes fit well in my skillet without crowding, so I did them all at once. If you work in batches you might need to add more olive oil as you go.
– During the last minute of cooking, add the butter and stir to distribute.
– Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and sprinkle crumbled, fried rosemary over top.