5 Ingredients or Fewer

Squashed Potatoes

April 19, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mariellen Belen
    Mariellen Belen
  • mensaque
  • Sagegreen
  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

25 Reviews

Mariellen B. March 17, 2013
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)
Amanda H. March 20, 2013
Really glad you liked it!
fhp March 12, 2013
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.
Amanda H. March 12, 2013
Dream comment -- thanks.
JohnSkye February 3, 2013
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?
Amanda H. February 10, 2013
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!
mensaque September 20, 2012
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?
Amanda H. September 20, 2012
I think of them as waxy with a tight, smooth flesh.
mensaque September 21, 2012
Thanks,Amanda.Can't wait to try them!
Jenna K. April 18, 2012
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?
Amanda H. April 22, 2012
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!
theDomesticGoddess January 10, 2017
I attempted this last night and my baby whites crumbled no matter how delicately I tried to squash them. So I just tossed the crumbled pieces (tried to keep them large) into the skillet with the olive oil and garlic cloves and browned them a bit. It was still tasty, but just had a rustic hash brown look.
cranberry January 29, 2012
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.
tbranscum328 January 9, 2012
Instead of using a skillet, I bake the smashed potatoes until crispy. Absolutely delicious!
Amanda H. January 9, 2012
Thanks for the tip!
Sagegreen July 21, 2011
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!
Amanda H. July 21, 2011
Ha! We should do a contest theme for stress-relieving recipes.
bella S. July 19, 2011
Amanda, where is the adorable meat pounder?
TONYB October 9, 2011
It's in the 2nd pic.
TONYB October 9, 2011
It's in the 2nd pic.
Oui, C. July 19, 2011
My kids are gonna love smashing the potatoes in this dish....brilliant! Like a game of "whack a mole" in the kitchen. - S
Amanda H. July 19, 2011
I love any excuse to use my meat pounder. Have fun!
kgw November 7, 2017
May I ask the source of the shiny, adorable meat pounder?
Amanda H. November 7, 2017
Oh, gosh. I bought it about 20 years ago at Zabar's on the Upper West Side! Here's one that's similar: https://www.amazon.com/Eppicotispai-4-Pound-Stainless-Steel-Tenderizer/dp/B0047T6V5S/ref=sr_1_25?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1510073762&sr=1-25&keywords=meat+pounder
kgw November 7, 2017
Thanks so much! For everything! Food52 is wonderful!