the most innocuous of smash choices (only potatoes were harmed by me) ::::
Peach had a sly look on her face when she looked up.
“What are you doing?” I asked her as I walked over to a small group of girls surrounding her at school, crouching and looking at the ground.
“We’re squishing ants, Mommy.”
This seems to be a rite of passage, not sure to what exactly, for every kid. I remember my little brother spent 30 minutes cutting ants in half with a penny on the sidewalk outside our house one day, with a childless adult family friend kneeling and studying the scenario with just as much focus as my brother. I don’t remember having the proclivity for purposeful insect smashing as a child, but rather avoided any bug blood spilled on my watch.
Instead, I’ve taken to squishing food instead. Growing up, I was always interested in the mashing of potatoes at Thanksgiving. Squeezing various citrus for juice has been a favorite since being in California. Crushing old crackers or cereal for a panko substitute for crispy chicken is a nice way to get some frustration out after a lame day. Kneading and thwacking a ball of bread dough isn’t out of the question either. Recently, some gentle smashing seemed in order.
Not that a good mashed potato dish isn’t great, with frizzled onions, roasted garlic, and lots of butter, but I opted for a gentle smash of some small, cute potatoes. The beauty of the gentle smash, creamy interior barely peeping out, is that the skin crisps. No better savory comfort food than here. I may need a little more comfort if Peach continues smashing ants, and if Grub decides to follow her lead.
- 2 lbs marble-sized Yukon Gold, purple, and red-skinned potatoes (I felt the Yukon Gold held up the best and stayed moist.)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes (this will depend on the size of your potatoes). Cool slightly.
- Arrange potatoes on baking sheet. Set another rimmed baking sheet over potatoes, rimmed side up, and press gently to smash potatoes without breaking them apart (this didn't work for me, so I used a wooden spoon instead and smashed each potato). Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with half of the oil. Carefully turn potatoes to coat.
- Roast potatoes for 15 minutes in preheated oven. Drizzle with remaining oil, turn to coat and continue roasting until crispy and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.