Squashed Potatoes

By • April 19, 2010 • 21 Comments


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Author Notes: I was thinking of a great potato crisping technique, one I learned from Susan Spungen's underappreciated book, Recipes. In her version, which she calls Potato Tostones, she has you steam small white potatoes, lightly crush them in your palms and then crisp them in oil. I've made her recipe many times and recommend that you do too!

But I wanted to take the potatoes one step further and really flatten them before crisping them in the pan, so there would be a thinner creamy potato center and a thicker, more perceptible crust. Susan also keeps her potatoes pure and minimal, seasoned with only coarse sea salt. I wanted to add some other flavors. I began by forgetting to steam the potatoes, a mix of baby white and fingerlings, and instead plowing forth out of habit and boiling them. Then -- and I know this will surprise regular readers -- I used my handy meat pounder (see it in the photo above -- isn't it adorable?) to flatten the potatoes to 1/4-inch thick. I discovered two crucial details. If you peel the potatoes before browning them, they get much crisper -- much like a hash brown without all of the hassle and heft. And if you want to add other seasonings, you need to chop or grind those herbs and spices fine enough to sprinkle over the crisped potatoes so the heat draws out their fragrance on the way to the table.

Originally, I thought I'd work the classic garlic and rosemary duo, but then I tried a simple seasoning of coarsely ground coriander, freshly grated black pepper and coarse salt. The coriander lends a citrusy scent and the coarse flakes from the spices add to the sense of crispness in the potatoes. What I like best about these potatoes is that you can boil them in advance, keep them chilled in your fridge, then peel and squash a few whenever you have a mouth to feed. Or a desire to use your meat pounder.
Amanda Hesser

Serves 4

  • 1 pound fingerling (preferably) or baby white potatoes
  • Salt
  • 4 plump garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Either 2 teaspoons roughly ground coriander seeds or 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 2 inches of cold water. Generously salt the water. Place the pan over high heat, bring to a boil and cook at an active simmer until the potatoes are tender. Drain and let cool enough to handle.
  2. Peel the potatoes (you can skip this step if you find it too tedious). Using a meat pounder or the base of a small heavy saute pan, press down on the potatoes to flatten them, one at a time, until 1/4-inch thick. (You may need a spatula to lift them in one piece from your work surface; lay them on a baking sheet.) Flatten the garlic cloves also, leaving the skins on.
  3. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Coat the base of the pan with a thick layer of olive oil. Add just enough squashed potatoes to fill the base of the pan. Tuck the garlic cloves in between the potatoes. Adjust the heat between medium and medium-low so the potatoes brown slowly. Let them sizzle away until nut brown, 5 to 8 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. (The garlic may cook more quickly, so keep an eye on it. Brown it on both sides, then transfer it to a serving platter.) When the potatoes are browned, transfer to the serving platter, and season with freshly ground black pepper, a little sea salt, and either the roughly ground coriander or rosemary. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Tags: can be made ahead, entertaining, Side Dishes, simple

Comments (21) Questions (2)

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Stringio

about 1 year ago Mariellen Belen

A-Mazing!! Simple side dish that tastes so delicious-my kind of recipe!! Had it with our St. Patty's day corned beef and cabbage-topped with a dollop of sour cream and thinly sliced green onions! These are going to go with my Easter ham-thanks so much for sharing this!! (and the photos are a bonus too-need the visuals when picking new recipes to try)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Really glad you liked it!

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about 1 year ago fhp

Made these last week to serve with lamb chops so I went the rosemary and garlic route. Fried some sage leaves that sandwiched anchovy paste to sprinkle on the side. Minty braised artichokes as well. What a success but everyone wanted more of your potatoes.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Dream comment -- thanks.

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about 1 year ago JohnSkye

you say that they get much crisper if you peel them, but in all your pics they are clearly UNpeeled ... so do you peel them so they get much crisper, or not?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I do peel them when I feel like taking the time, but they're also good unpeeled. It's really up to you and your tolerance for peeling!

08270410avatar_messbrasil

over 1 year ago mensaque

This sounds delicious and soooo much fun!!!Just let me ask you all the way from Brazil,what kind of potatoes are the fingerlings?Starchy,juicy or dry?I'm thinking starchy,right?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I think of them as waxy with a tight, smooth flesh.

08270410avatar_messbrasil

over 1 year ago mensaque

Thanks,Amanda.Can't wait to try them!

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about 2 years ago Jenna Kane

These were delish!!!!!! However, I boiled them approx 15 maybe 2p mins (reg size red potato) and didn't let them cool THAT long but when I mashed them, they didn't really smash, they crumbled. I had to use a spatula to get them into the pan and then let them cook enough to get a crust before I could flip.... what did I do wrong?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Did you used fingerlings or baby whites? Just curious. I find that potatoes vary a lot depending on their age and source, and I wonder if yours happened to be dry. Another thought is that perhaps you smashed yours more thinly than I did and this made them crumbly. Either way, I'm sorry they weren't as cooperative as you'd hoped. But glad you liked them, and hope they turn out better next time!

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about 2 years ago cranberry

Interestingly my friend makes a similar recipe except she also boils the garlic, then smashes it all like this recipe does, and drizzles with olive oil and browns in the oven. It's very tasty.

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over 2 years ago tbranscum328

Instead of using a skillet, I bake the smashed potatoes until crispy. Absolutely delicious!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for the tip!

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almost 3 years ago Sagegreen

These were so much fun to make. 'll have to remember this recipe to make during the academic year to work out any aggressions after those dreaded faculty meetings!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Ha! We should do a contest theme for stress-relieving recipes.

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almost 3 years ago bella s.f.

Amanda, where is the adorable meat pounder?

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over 2 years ago TONYB

It's in the 2nd pic.

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over 2 years ago TONYB

It's in the 2nd pic.

Steve_dunn02

almost 3 years ago Oui, Chef

My kids are gonna love smashing the potatoes in this dish....brilliant! Like a game of "whack a mole" in the kitchen. - S

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I love any excuse to use my meat pounder. Have fun!