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roasted smashed potatoes

November 22, 2010

One of the things Chris and I are on a constant hunt for is the perfect, crispy, oven-roasted potato. Although we disagree on the ideal crispy-outside-to-soft-inside ratio (I think it should be much lower than he does), we’re mostly united in this epic quest. We’ve tried quite a few recipes, and the smashed-roasted one was pretty successful—not to mention probably the most impressive-looking of the bunch. 

However, the last time I used that method, the potatoes really only got crispy after I left them on the bottom rack of the oven for far too long, and some of them got burned. So when I found out that the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated contained their own version of the recipe, I knew we had to try it. (Are you sensing a pattern here? No? Are you sure?)

In this one, I play potato-DJ. Wicka-wicka-waaaa?
I have to say, this was a pretty snazzy recipe. The potatoes ended up perfectly crispy, with no need for flipping them halfway or any such nonsense required by a couple of our other standbys. 

However, they were kind of hard to smash, so we basically had a pan full of mashed potatoes by the end. One of the notes in the explanatory article that went along with the recipe said that waiting for 10 minutes helped keep them together in little individual potato-piles, so maybe we’ll wait for even longer this time. Also, we didn’t quite cook them long enough (I swear, all potatoes feel the same with a poking knife once they’ve been at all cooked through), and we didn’t really have a heavy enough pan to smash them all easily. Lessons learned for next time. 

Roasted Smashed Potatoes
2 lb. small Red Bliss potatoes (about 18), scrubbed, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven racks to top and bottom positions and heat oven to 500 degrees. Arrange potatoes on rimmed baking sheet, pour 3/4 cup water into baking sheet, and wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Cook on bottom rack until paring knife or skewer slips in and out of the potatoes easily (poke through foil to test), 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and cool 10 minutes [or more]. If any water remains on baking sheet, blot dry with paper towel.
2. Drizzle 3 tablespoons oil over potatoes and roll to coat. Space potatoes evenly on baking sheet and place second baking sheet on top; press down firmly on baking sheet, flattening potatoes until 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and season generously with salt and pepper; drizzle evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Roast potatoes on top rack 15 minutes. Transfer potatoes to bottom rack and continue to roast until well browned, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Serve immediately. 

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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