Food that becomes ‘all the rage’ is always an interesting proposition. It may often be trendy for trendiness’ sake. Or, it can be like this item, an awesome tasty take on basic food. We like the results and the tastiness, it just seems that it is often made more difficult in many of the recipes out there. Naturally that means we had to do our own take on smashed crispy taters.
Our variation is pretty much different from top to bottom. Microwave instead of boiled for the first step, we’ll tell you why. Cooked on a griddle or skillet for the second step, again with good reasons. Even our choice of oils has a bearing on the outcome. So, get ready for easy, tasty and fun potatoes to put on your table
Right out of the gate, for this dish the microwave does and excellent job of the first cooking step. Most recipes boil the taters, a great old timey way to get them cooked all the way through. It works. It also steams up the kitchen, takes three times as long, and can make the taters too watery to crisp up well. Water is the enemy of crispy things.
Potatoes do contain enough water inside to steam and get fluffy without immersing them in a boiling pot. The trick is to contain that moisture, and we have the technology in our kitchen in the form of plastic film. Not all plastic film, also called plastic wrap, is created the same, so be certain you are using a product that is listed as microwave safe.
Oil is the friend of crispy thing. In general, you cannot crisp without some oil being present. Fat carries flavor, oil is clarified fats, so we use bacon fat. Think about how well your bacon can crisp up in its’ own fat…yeah that. It works great here and carries really tasty flavors. Butter is the most commonly used oil in these recipes. We too love our butter. And, it works great, having a lower browning temperature and all. For this though, we like the resilience of the bacon fat since we are not baking the spuds. For this and lots of other food, we highly recommend that you save the fat whenever you cook bacon. It will last for a long time in the fridge, and add flavor to all kinds of meals (try pancakes cooked in bacon fat, OMG!).
Most recipes will say to bake the tater after boiling and smashing. That will work, and it might be a better process if you are doing a very large number of potatoes. However, you can get better control and great results using a flat griddle or flat bottom skillet. It contains your oil to keep it on the food, you get to watch the results and direct contact with the metal gets a heavier crust in the browning process.
Pick a potato
They will just about all work, and we highly recommend that you try as many types as you can find at your grocer. For this occasion, we used red potatoes. Not the baby ones actually, but mid-size spuds. The key here is that when you are shopping pick potatoes that are very similar size and shape for even cooking in both steps.
By using plastic wrap and microwaving the taters, we make the smashing step super easy regardless of the potato variety that you use. Smashing them still wrapped creates a somewhat more uniform shape and lets you work them until you get the size you want. Again, the idea is consistent sizing. So, when you smash them, bring them to the same level and same resulting thickness for uniform cooking.
Pro Tips & Tricks
Potatoes will explode in the microwave. It is true. So, you must remember to poke some holes in them. We want the plastic wrap to contain the moisture, but the steam still needs to escape as well. Simple solution to both issues. Wrap the taters, in our case we strung three together in the same piece of film, and poke the holes right through the film and the tater skin with a small sharp knife. Three to four pokes per spud will keep you safe and spare you the chore of cleaning exploded tater from inside your microwave oven.
Smash the taters before you unwrap them. This will keep them somewhat more together. A fully cooked potato has a delicate texture and can crumble easily. However. Smashing them while still wrapped gets you the wrinkles and crinkles that you want for crispy goodness and keeps the shapes somewhat intact. We used a heavy stainless measuring cup with a flat bottom. In the past a cutting board has worked on top, smashing all simultaneously and evenly. Regardless, make sure the surface doing the smashing is flat, not curved, to get better results on the griddle.
You do need to turn the spuds over once during the grilling process. Super easy to do using a pair of tongs to grab the tater by the sides, also keeping it more intact. However, a spatula will work fine, just be tender when flipping and don’t plop them firmly back to the griddle or you will risk breaking them up.
Easy Crisp Smashed Potatoes
- 6 Red Potatoes
- 2-3 Tablespoons Bacon fat
- Rinse and clean the potatoes
- Pat dry, leaving most not dripping wet
- Wrap in film either individually or strung along and twisted between each
- Poke holes in wrap and through skin, 3-4 for each potato
- Microwave for 6 minutes on high
- Turn over, using hot mitts and caution
- Cook for an additional 6 minutes on high
- The potatoes should be soft to the touch, if not cook additionally
- Remove from the microwave and let sit for ten minutes
- Smash the potatoes to an even thickness
- Unwrap the potatoes and let sit for 5 minutes
- Heat the griddle or skillet over medium, to medium high heat, add ½ of the bacon fat
- Place potatoes on the surface making sure there is some oil under each one
- Grill 7-10 minutes until nicely browned, turn over
- Repeat grilling for 7-10 minutes
- Serve with your favorite meal and enjoy