Monday, January 11, 2016

Loaded Smashed Potatoes

As much as I love Trader Joe's, we live two minutes from a major grocery store so we don't go there quite as often as I'd like. However, since TJ's is located adjacent to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, I try and coordinate the visits together; I'm an engineer so I'm all about efficiency. On our most recent trip, I was looking for halloumi and though I was unsuccessful in that regard, I found a block of truffle cheddar which was a different kind of victory. I have a hard time resisting anything with the word 'truffle' in it (minus the chocolate kind) so I popped it in the cart.

Fast forward a day and I was making a steak dinner. And despite my sister's newly discovered potato allergy, we'd gone too long without them so I started making smashed potatoes as a side dish. I opened up the truffle cheese thinking it would make a yummy topping. I took a taste and I was blown away. It was super truffle-y and fragrant and then I decided I had to go all out and load up these potatoes generously so I could do this cheese some justice.

The end result was a pile of fluffy potatoes with crispy skins topped with generous amounts of flavor-laden toppings and we were all obsessed, including my sister with her allergy. And despite the steak being incredibly tender and delicious, and perhaps the best steak I'd made in years, it took a backseat to the glory of the smashed potatoes.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 lbs. baby yukon gold potatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 slices bacon
½ cup grated truffle cheddar
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 scallions, chopped
+ 1 teaspoon black truffle oil

Start by drizzling some canola oil all over the potatoes and then popping them in the oven to roast at 400F for about 20 minutes, or until they're cooked through and tender in the center. To test, stab a potato with a thin paring knife. If it goes in and out easily, the potatoes are done. If the knife gets stuck, the potatoes need another few minutes.
When the potatoes are soft, grab a masher and smash each potato to split the skins and expose some of the fluffy interior. I started off a bit too aggressively so the first two I smashed were basically blasted to bits; I guess I don't know my own strength.
Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Pop the potatoes back in the oven for another 10 minutes to crisp up the skins.
While the potatoes are roasting, crisp up some bacon and reserve the bacon fat.
In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, cream cheese, garlic, butter, and reserved bacon fat. Place over a medium heat and let the mixture warm up until the cream cheese melts.
Plate up the roasted smashed potatoes.
Drizzle with truffle oil; a little goes a long way. This step is optional but recommended.
Pour the cream mixture on top of the potatoes.
Sprinkle on the grated truffle cheddar, scallions, and crumble on the bacon.
The residual heat will melt the cheese. Serve immediately while they're still piping hot.
We had some fluffy rice pilaf, haricots verts (with a little crushed red pepper flake), and a steak basted in rosemary and garlic flavored butter.
These potatoes are awesome because they basically combine the best potato dishes together into one: the insides are fluffy like mashed potatoes, the skins are crisp like baked potatoes, and the edges are crunchy like french fries. Best of all, the toppings push it over the edge into super decadence. It's not necessarily the best dish for anyone who's trying to work on weight-reducing new year's resolutions, but it's still delicious and maybe you can save it for next holiday season.
Here's the recipe page:

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