There’s a folder crammed full of pages ripped from food and cooking magazines that is threatening to takeover the cookbook windowsill in our apartment. With every new issue of Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, and Whole Living that passes through the door, the daunting folder grows. Every few months I try to cull it down – there are only so many recipes one needs for molten chocolate this or shredded fried potato that – but still it grows. I’m collecting food blog pages in the same way. My favorites list is a scroll-mile long, getting longer. And yet I find myself going back to the same few recipes – one, mom’s version of my grandmother’s version of my great-grandmother’s version of fruit cobbler, with its coveted, chewy, caramelized end pieces, rough measurements and nary a cooking temperature on a scrap of doodle-heavy note paper; another – mom’s salmon croquettes; and a third – that essence of summer ratatouille from Good Food Matters. Two days ago we had a double whammy with ratatouille for dinner and cobbler (with a twist! brown sugar oatmeal topping) for dessert.
I was adding to the recipe folder just this week when I decided to throw the process for a loop and actually make something before adding it to the messy stack. Bon Appetit came to the rescue with this simple little recipe for smashed roasted potatoes. (And whaddya know, the adjacent recipe is for molten cakes…). A measly four ingredients (five for my adaptation), two of which are salt and pepper, hardly any hands-on time, one pan easy clean up, and miraculous dinner results? Perfect. Eat these crispy, crunchy potatoes with whatever fresh vegetables you’ve been able to find – romano beans and corn on the cob for us. I anticipate making them well into the fall and winter, when heating up the oven makes the place cozy as opposed to sauna-in-the-attic. (Romano beans – snip the stem off the beans, then sauté minced red onion in butter. Add the beans and saute briefly, turning to coat in the butter, and add salt and pepper. Throw in a splash of water, then turn the head to low and cover the pot to steam. When tender, throw in fresh, chopped herbs – we had basil and thyme).
Smashed Roasted Potatoes
(Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2012)
Serves 2 people generously with leftovers (2 red potatoes each), or 4 people
4-6 palm-sized red potatoes, organic if possible (the recipe also suggests medium Yukon Gold, in which case 2-4 would suffice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Handful of parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub each potato, then wrap individually in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender, approximately 45-60 minutes depending on size of potatoes.
Remove potatoes from oven, and bump up the heat to 500 degrees. Once potatoes have cooled enough to handle, unwrap them and arrange on same baking sheet. (We left ours in the foil, flattened out, but the Bon Appetit recipe says to remove them from the foil – your choice, but we liked the each pick-up/clean-up of leaving the foil underneath). Set another rimmed baking sheet over the unwrapped potatoes, rimmed side up, and press gently to smash the potatoes without breaking them apart too much. (I used the bottom of a thick plate to do this instead of a sheet pan). Season generously with salt and pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil. Carefully turn the potatoes to coat.
Put back in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Then drizzle with more olive oil, turn to coat, and continue roasting until crispy and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. In the last three minutes of cooking time, sprinkle the cheese on the potatoes and return to the oven. Keep a close eye on them and pull as soon as the cheese starts to crisp.
For my next encounter with this recipe, I may bake the potatoes the day before to cut down the oven time and make this an after-work meal option.