If you have extra time, you can cook crispy potatoes without deep frying.
All it takes – riffing off the “po-ta-toes” scene in the movie “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” – is to boil ’em, smash ’em and bake ’em on a sheet pan.
This preparation is often called smashed potatoes because they are not completely pulverized, riced or whipped like mashed potatoes.
As opposed to mushy, mashed potatoes in a rabbit stew extolled by Samwise Gamgee in “The Two Towers,” smashed potatoes are a rustic dish with a crispy exterior and fluffy interior.
They can be seasoned basically with salt and pepper and finished with butter, or jazzed up with other spices and topping. The recipe below features garlic seasoning and Parmesan cheese.
The dish starts with small potatoes, sometimes called new potatoes. That term refers to not a specific spud variety but an age. New potatoes are dug early in the harvesting season, or before maturity.
Some people think new potatoes taste slightly sweeter. I just think they taste better.
Any variety can be made into smashed potatoes, but I recommend red potatoes. During the two-step cooking process that starts with boiling the potatoes and then crisping them in the oven, the red variety hits the perfect texture balance between soft and still having some body.
Smashed potatoes are like a grown-up side dish to have with meatloaf, steak or roasted or fried chicken.
Locally grown potatoes and other produce are available at the Abilene Farmers Market. It is open 7 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the Frontier Texas! overflow parking lot, North First and Mesquite streets.
Vendors also sell plants, jams, jellies, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, baked goods, pecans, honey, soaps and lotions.
Local produce and meat also are available at Denton Valley Farms, 8750 County Road 224, Clyde. For the summer, hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays.
Both markets update their Facebook accounts regularly with product availability.
Heat and high winds in the late spring have delayed some harvests this year, so be flexible with your menu planning.
Share your favorite recipes or food-related historical recollections by emailing Laura Gutschke at [email protected].
1 1/2 to 2 pounds red or yellow new potatoes (about the size of plums or golf balls)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1. Rinse and scrub the potatoes clean, keeping the skin intact as much as possible. Use a paring knife to cut out pits or crevices.
2. Put potatoes in a pot and cover with water (about 1/2 to 1 inch under water). Add about a tablespoon of salt to the water and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium high. Cook until a fork can slip easily into a potato, about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain potatoes in a large colander and let cool about 5 minutes.
3. While potatoes are cooking, heat oven to 425 degrees.
4. Pat potatoes dry (less moisture will improve their crispiness during roasting). Place evenly on sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss with olive oil on sheet pan, evenly coating the potatoes and the baking sheet in the process.
5. Use a potato masher, back of metal serving spoon or bottom of a sturdy cup to press potatoes to about 1/3- to 1/2-inch thickness for smashed potatoes. Lightly season on top with garlic.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven. Sprinkle a few pinches of Parmesan on each potato. Return sheet pan to oven and bake about 15 more minutes, until potatoes are crispy on the edges and bottom. Serve immediately, with butter on the side for extra indulgence. Yields about 4-6 servings.
Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Baked smashed potatoes a crispy comfort food without deep frying