Monday, June 15, 2009

My new favorite squished potatoes...

As a child, we had potatoes with just about every meal. I chalk a lot of this to my paternal grandmother's immigration from Ireland, and her subsequent influence on my father. A meal was not complete without a potato of some kind. I remember my grandmother visiting us, and accompanying our meal of spagetti, we had... potatoes. Her idea of health food was a McDonald's fried fish sandwich and a large order of french fries.

Potatoes have always been a symbol of comfort and stability for me. I could eat them every day, in varying forms. Unfortunately, I can also eat way too many of them - somehow the section of my brain that says "stop eating" turns off when potatoes are around. Like other things that accompanying getting older, I am trying to limit my consumption of starches - not for some Adkins like diet thing, but just an acknowledgement that I can't eat as much of them (or anything) anymore, and I don't feel particularly good when I do.

But there are still days that I crave potatoes. I love french fries (the way my dad used to make them), but fried food is a big no-no. I used to make over roasted french fries, but I always have had problems with them sticking to the pan or foil. It's like the raw potato starch solifies and sticks so you can't turn the potatoes to get them evenly browned. Maybe I'm the only one who ever has this problem.

My inspiration came after reading a recipe for mashed, roasted potatoes. First, boil the potatoes, THEN roast them. Given, you're not going to be able to cut them into those little french-fry strips, if that's what you're craving, but I am in shock and awe of how much better the potatoes turn out.

First, scrub some red-skinned (or other waxy type) potatoes. Boil them in enough water to cover until a fork pierces the potatoes easily. You want the potatoes to be pretty tender because you need to be able to squish them with a fork.

Next, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and use a fork to gently squish and break up the potatoes. Now, I like lots of little crunchy pieces, so I break them up quite a bit. Drizzle with olive oil (or a butter/olive oil combo if you're feeling really daring), salt, and maybe garlic if you are so inclined. You want all the pieces to be coated.

You're going to look at the pan (above) and think, 'This is going to turn into a goopy sticky mess' , but I swear, it's not.

Bake at 400 or 450 until the potatoes are as crispy as you like. All those little bits will become like little potato croutons. Because they have been pre-cooked, the insides are fluffy and tender, but the outsides and skins are so crispy.

Serve them with ketchup or aoli, or I even use them in my potato salad now. I also like to serve them as a tapa (potato bravos)...

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