Thursday, March 6, 2014

Crispy Smashed Potatoes + Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Potatoes.  Such a versatile and simple ingredient but if prepared the right way, they can be transformed into something magical.   Our grocery store carries these tiny, bite-size potatoes and I am completely obsessed.  For the past two brunches that I've gone to, I've made these Crispy Smashed Potatoes and each time, there wasn't so much as a crumb left!

There is a restaurant here in Cleveland called Sweet Melissa.  In my opinion, it is the absolute best breakfast place in the area... maybe even in the nation for that matter.  They source quality ingredients, the atmosphere is cozy and the menu is incredibly inventive.  Their coffee is amazing and I'm even more in love with the tall cups that they serve it in.  Prior to your meal, they serve everyone a small dish of fresh fruit along with a tiny seasonal scone.  Its the perfect place for breakfast. 

It is here that I got the idea to make these potatoes.  With most of their dishes, they serve crispy-on-the-outside and fluffy-on-the-inside potatoes. So of course, I decided to take a stab at recreating them on my own. Other than the water to boil and oil to fry, there are only 3 ingredients in this recipe.  Potatoes, salt and herbs.  That's it folks and that's all you need to make some pretty spectacular potatoes!    

It is very important to cover the potatoes with cold water.  This helps them cook evenly.

Drain and run cold water over them.  They are much easier to smash when you don't have to worry about burning your little hands.  If you don't have time to let them cool, place a dish towel over them before you smash.

You don't want them to be mashed potato soft.  Make sure you stop boiling early enough as to leave a little firmness in the potatoes.  That way they will retain their shape when you smash them. Simply use your hand and apply gentle pressure until the skin breaks and the flesh is exposed.  

Pile 'em up high.  I ended up adding another bag more than I thought I should make... and every tiny potato was gone by the end of the meal.

The temperature of the oil is very important.  At 375-400, you will get a light and crispy potato.  Any lower, the oil will seep in and make them greasy and soggy.  After each batch, make sure you get the oil back up to where it needs to be.

I use peanut oil because it is best for frying.  And since these don't release juices, you can strain and reuse the oil.  While they are frying, move them around in the oil with the spider so they cook evenly.  Remember to season them with salt as soon as you take them out of the oil.

And this sauce... this sauce.  It's just icing on the cake.  

Crispy Smashed Potatoes
4-6 pounds small potatoes (fingerling, redskin, yukon gold)
Peanut oil for frying
kosher or sea salt
fresh chopped chives or rosemary

Place potatoes in large pot, cover with cold water and place on stove over high heat. Bring to boil and cook until tender. You want them to be firm, but soft enough to smash and still retain their shape. Remove one from the water to test.  Depending on the size of your potatoes, cooking time will vary.  Mine took about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain. 

Run cold water over the potatoes and let them cool until they are able to be handled and smashed.  Using your hand, lightly place pressure on the potato and smash until the skin slightly bursts. Work through all of the potatoes, placing the smashed ones on a clean sheet pan. 

While smashing the potatoes, bring a heavy stock pot filled 2/3 the way full with peanut oil up to 375-400 degrees.  With a wire spider, drop about 10-12 potatoes in at a time and fry for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel lined sheet pan.  After removing from oil, immediately season with salt and herb of choice.  

Between batches, you may need to let oil return to 375-400 degrees. When you place the potatoes in the oil, the temperature drops.  That is fine.  Just make sure the oil is in the 375-400 range when you place them in the pot to ensure a crispy skin.  Any lower, then the potatoes will end up soggy.      

Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients in bowl and mix together until combined.  Serve on side as a dipping sauce for the potatoes.  

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