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What can be better than mashed potatoes, swirls of butter melting down their sides? Smashed potatoes, which reign triumphant in this kitchen. Here, you get more of the potato — the skin and bumps — and all the potato flavor. When finished in the oven, smashed potatoes emerge crusty and browned, closer to roasted or fried potatoes, yet creamy within.

Smashed potatoes are certainly lower in fat than mashed potatoes. The technique also works well with all potato varieties, while mashers are best made with starchy potatoes with fluffy interiors that whip up to be light and creamy. Smashing works especially well with heirloom and new potatoes; both have waxy textures that tend to become gluey when mashed.

When smashing potatoes, freshness is the key to success. (You can hide a lot of a potato's flaws with butter and cream.) Potatoes are in season right now, and though they store well, they lose their distinct flavors over time. Find a range of the best from local farms in co-ops and at farmers markets. Consider the golden varieties (German Butterballs and Yukon Gold) with a buttery yellow flesh, and the small, rosy red and purple heirloom varieties. These heirlooms contain a lot of health-promoting antioxidants and have a nuanced, nutty taste. Store these potatoes in a cool dry place, out of sunlight, and do try and use them right away. Pitch any potatoes with green spots or that have turned wrinkled and soft.

Along with fresh potatoes, a good tasting fat — duck fat, chicken fat, butter, olive oil or nut oil — will give this dish a fine crusty finish. Using this simple technique and great potatoes, this dish is a smashing success.

Smashed Potatoes with Olive Oil

Serves 4 to 6.

Use quality extra-virgin olive oil, freshly chopped herbs and coarse salt. This technique works wonderfully with an equal amount of unsalted butter or nut oil (hazelnut oil is especially good). It's best if the potatoes are cooled before being smashed; they may also be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days before finishing. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 1/2 lb. fresh potatoes (about 10 to 14 small fresh potatoes)

• 1 tbsp. salt

• 3 tbsp. to 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 4 cloves garlic, smashed

• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves

• Generous pinch coarse salt, to taste


Put the potatoes into a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes by about 2 inches, along with the tablespoon of salt. (The water should taste briny.) Set the pot over high heat, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain in a colander and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the potatoes to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Smash the potatoes with the garlic, parsley and thyme while drizzling in the oil. Sprinkle with the coarse salt. Roast in the oven until the potatoes are crispy brown, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Beth Dooley is the author of "The Perennial Kitchen." Find her at