Awhile back I admitted to having a particular fondness for potatoes, which is a good thing when you live in a northern climate and you are trying to eat local. During the winter months there is not much to be found beyond squash, potatoes and other root vegetables.
The good thing about potatoes is that they are very versatile and fit perfectly into my winter appetite for soups and stews and roasted things. But even though they are so versatile after awhile you begin to think you have tried everything there is to try with a potato and you get into a bit of a rut…mashed, roasted, fried…yawn.
I was beginning to feel that way and then one day I was watching Michael Smith’s Chef at Home. He did something different, something that I had never thought of, and all of a sudden the rut was over. It was a simple idea, as most good ideas seem to be, but the results were great. He took an already roasted potato, smashed it flat with his hand, drizzled some olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and…fennel seed (my new favourite ingredient) on the top. He then roasted them at high heat so that they got nice and crispy. So good.
I have already made them a number of times. I have served them plain, and with a little dollop of sour cream. Either way they are great, crispy flavourful and the fennel seed adds such a nice touch. Hurray for versatility!
"Smashed" Ontario Potatoes dressed with Olive Oil, Kosher Salt and Fennel Seeds
adapted from Michael Smith Chef at Home
For this recipe you need already roasted potatoes. Yellow flesh potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, are my favourite. I find them sweeter and fluffier but you could always use New Potatoes or Baking Potatoes.
To roast potatoes place them in a 350 degree oven and roast for 30 to 45 minutes or until a fork easily pierces to the centre of the potato. The roasted potatoes can be made a day or two ahead and left in the refrigerator.
6-8 roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 tablespoon of olive oil per potato
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon of fennel seeds per potato
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Smash your roasted potatoes with the heel of your hand or the bottom of a plate and place them an inch apart on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top of each potato and sprinkle with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and fennel seeds. Roast in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp and golden. Serve warm as is or with a dollop of sour cream.
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