Lest you think I only make sugary sweets, here’s some home cookin’ of the savory kind.
Smashed potatoes are one of my favorite sides. They’re like a baked potato but with more crispy and less dry. Sort of like a twice-baked potato but with less hassle and more humble. You boil potatoes (or in this case, microwave them), pop ’em in some tasty fat, and smash them flat.
I originally learned to make them, as most people do, boiled and transferred to a baking sheet. This recipe pares things down and saves me time on dishes to boot. You microwave the potatoes on the same plate you transfer the bacon to; you cook the potatoes in the same pan you fry the bacon in.
But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
Bacon. You should start with the bacon. You should bake the bacon. Oh yeah, I said it. Bake the bacon.
Potatoes. Easy enough, right? You probably know all the tricks already, but just in case, I’ve taken out the guesswork. Bake the bacon. Microwave the potatoes. Perfect, every time. I mean, have you ever had bacon that was charred in spots and fatty in others? Or a baked potato with perfectly crunchy skin but a dry-as-the-desert center?
Yeah, this recipe is basically the antithesis of that.
Perfect comfort food for a chilly night, a rainy day, a backyard barbecue, or anything in between. Not very dairy-friendly, but it is gluten-free (for those who need that). Simple enough to be a side. It’s also a hearty supper – and so easy! 30 minutes from tater to table, and all you’ll have to clean when you’ve scraped the last scrumptious bite from your plate is a skillet, a plate, and your fork!
Side or supper, doesn’t matter. This is some darn good comfort food. If you want to make a meal of it, round things out with a big salad or a dish of buttered green beans. Red waxy potatoes can be used in place of the Yukon Golds, but the flesh won’t be as fluffy. A better subsitute might be to opt for small russets with a thinner skin. Srub ’em well, and before microwaving, rub some olive oil or other neutral cooking oil into the skin.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
6 slices thick-cut bacon
6-8 small to medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt + pepper
1 tablespoon butter
scallions, sliced on the bias
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lay the bacon in a large cast iron skillet so it is not overlapping. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and reserve (i.e. place barbed wire around it so that pets and littles keep their respective paws OFF.)
Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and poke out any eyes. (Theirs, not yours.) Place on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high until mostly cooked, about 8-10 minutes. (Test for doneness with the tip of a paring knife. If it slides easily into the center of the largest potato, you’re golden.)
Pour off all but one tablespoon bacon grease (reserve the extra grease for another use). Sprinkle the teaspoon of salt over the grease left in the skillet. Top the bacon grease and salt with the cooked potatoes then, using a potato masher or the bottom a large measuring cup, smash the potatoes in the skillet. Brush the tops of the potatoes with the olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with the shredded cheddar. Return skillet to oven and bake 5-10 minutes, until the insides of the smashed potatoes are crispy and golden and the cheese is melted.
Serve piping hot, topped with pats of butter, dollops of sour cream, and a hearty sprinkling of scallions. Oh, and the bacon! Chop it, sprinkle it, savor it.