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Loaded Smashed Potatoes
First boiled, then smashed and baked to crispy perfection these loaded smashed potatoes make an ideal side dish to roasted chicken.
Ask any kid who spent their winters on a pool deck in the 1990’s and 2000’s what kind of food kept them alive and they’ll give you two answers: cup of noodles and baked potatoes. Yes, future Olympians fueled themselves with “junk” and loaded carbs.
There was probably a solid seven years after I hung up my cap and goggles (due to injury) that I couldn’t stomach eating baked potatoes. Maybe it was the trauma of being frozen on a pool deck for all of those years. I still enjoyed potatoes cooked in other methods, namely mashed or roasted in the oven, but if you put a gigantic russet potato on my dinner plate I suddenly lose my appetite. Anyone else have a similar reaction to certain foods that they once loved?
Maybe love is going a bit far.
But for the majority of my life, potato dishes have provided comfort to me at moments in life when I’ve needed it most. Sounds silly, but I really do believe that there is such a thing as comfort foods. Snickerdoodles... baked macaroni and cheese... chicken tortilla soup are all what I consider comfort food.
There’s something about the texture and flavor of a properly cooked potato that just melts me inside. Slowly over the years, I’ve found myself craving a fully loaded baked potato with all the fixings I’ve come to love:
Crispy bacon bits
Gooey cheddar cheese
Is anyone else drooling? It’s six in the morning and I now have baked potatoes on the brain.
Since a russet potato is, well, ginormous, I’ve switched things up a bit recently. Instead of bringing out the big boys, I opt for new potatoes and something called marbled potatoes, just to offer a variety of shapes and textures.
Does anyone know why they’re called new potatoes? Just wondering the important things in life here.
Anywho, the new potatoes are boiled to a tender perfection, then carefully smashed by some kind of flat object like a potato masher or drinking glass, covered in heaping tablespoons of goodness. I’m talking about diced applewood bacon, garlic herb butter, and cheeeeese. You can substitute new potatoes for tiny red potatoes or even the purple ones, but I find that the purple ones have a tendency to crumble to tiny pieces under the weight of the topping. I like to smash the potatoes, transfer them to a cast iron skillet with some melted butter, just to firm up the bottoms of the potatoes prior to slipping them into the oven. Totally optional.
They don’t take that long to crisp up and turn into a beautiful shade of golden brown, so I usually pop them into the oven while my roasted chicken is on the counter resting about 15 or 20 minutes.
Now, it’s important not to smash the potatoes so hard that they fell apart. Part of the greatness to this recipe is the presentation of delivering an entire potato from a baking sheet to a dinner plate where hungry hands can then add any additional toppings they might desire.
Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
Fresh herbs like chives, scallions, rosemary or thyme
In the words of the great Charles Deetz, you can’t lose! Is anyone else pining away for a potential Beetlejuice sequel or am I alone in the world?
- 1 pound small potatoes, such as new potatoes
- 4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 eggs, optional
- 2 green onions, green parts only
- optional sour cream
- to taste salt and pepper