22 April 2013

Eats: smashed potatoes

Oh my gosh, you guys. Last Friday. LAST FRIDAY. I could tell you about how I spent my morning packing for a wedding eight hours away, or how I ended up going to the DMV twice, or how I had to sit on the phone to file a fraud claim with my credit card company... but the anxiety associated with those events is nothing compared to what the whole country was experiencing, right? Boston, man. That was an ordeal.

So once again, I’m left feeling a little silly talking about the trivialities of the projects around my house. There are bigger things on the line! And yet. When times are crazy, we want our routines. So here I am! Here, on a Monday morning, to tell you about a ridiculously simple recipe that you might enjoy this week. Or really, any night that you want to pretend that something borderline junk-food-snack is a legitimate dinner side dish!

Here’s the backstory to this “recipe” (in quotes because this barely counts as a recipe): I can make a mean twice-baked potato. Maybe I’ll show you sometime! But oy, they are time-consuming. And recently I wanted some twice-baked-potato-like, but without all the work. Even potato-skin-like would satisfy the craving, I thought. In the back of my brain I remembered this recipe from PW, and I thought I’d try something similar, making it up on the fly.

I used three medium-sized red potatoes and cut them into quarters:

Then boiled ‘em for about twenty minutes. How long you boil them depends on the size of potato, but I boiled mine until they were almost tender enough to eat as-is.

But eating them as-is would be super boring! Instead I spread them out on a lightly greased baking sheet and used my potato ricer to smash them, like so:

If you don’t have a potato ricer, I’m sure you could make do with a big fork or even the bottom of a glass! The idea is simply to create little grooves in the potato that can hold tasty bits of butter and cheese and bacon. Mmm.

Once smashed, I added a bit of butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder on top, as you can see above. Then came the good stuff: bacon and cheese.

Is there any better “good stuff” than bacon and cheese? I don’t think so. Although if you wanted to fancy it up, you could shred your own cheese and fry up your bacon... mine was pre-shredded and my bacon was cooked in the microwave. Easy-peasy!

Then I popped the whole shebang in a 400-degree oven. The idea is to get the cheese all melty and crisp up the potatoes.

Meanwhile, mix up a little topping for the smashed potatoes. I used equal parts sour cream and ranch dressing:

Just a few tablespoons is all you need. You can always mix up more on the fly if you need to!

Once the potatoes are crispy – mine took between ten and fifteen minutes – it’s time to top them with the creamy ranch sauce:

Oh goodness gracious, don’t you want just that for dinner?

As you can tell, these are super simple and indeed, barely count as a “recipe”. But I really liked them, partly because I always love potatoes, but also because they’re faster yet just as tasty and satisfying as longer potato-prep methods. They’re crispier than a baked potato, faster than twice-baked potatoes, easier than mashed potatoes, and have more room for loading on the aforementioned good stuff than basic roasted potatoes!

The only thing I perhaps would have done differently is... load them up a bit more. I refrained from really heaping on the bacon and cheese in the interest of saving calories, but you know and I know that these would be a heck of a lot tastier if I’d just piled it on.

And although these were definitely too bulky to be eaten as potato skins, I went ahead and served them with leftover party meatballs. It’s like a chain restaurant appetizer platter for dinner. Heck yes!

So the next time you want basic loaded potatoes: boil them, give ‘em a little smash, then a quick roast. They’re tender and crispy at the same time, and they’ll even hold your toppings in place! Perfectly quick comfort food for any night of the week. Enjoy!


Tina said...

Sounds good and certainly easy enough for supper tonight... thanks for the idea!a