Warm Smashed Potatoes pair perfectly with a salty-savory Mustard and Caper Vinaigrette, giving you a hearty side to any fall meal.
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Where would we be without potatoes? No fries, no tater tots, no hash browns. Indeed, the world would be a sad place without them. And according to Matt Damon in “The Martian,” potatoes and enough math can save your life on Mars. This quick recipe for Warm Smashed Potatoes is perfect for weekday dinners, with a nice briny counterpoint from the vinegar and capers to punch it up a bit.
Capers – It’s No Mystery
Based on my extensive research of Wikipedia, capers are the edible flower buds of a bush whose origin is not entirely clear (clearly it was aliens). The plants themselves are well adapted to areas with high temperatures and low moisture, such as northern Africa and parts of the Mediterranean. Most people will encounter them as little green balls resembling peas sitting in brine in tall narrow bottles. I’m not sure why they come in bottles that shape, but I have yet to see them offered any other way. They are pretty salty, which plays well with the potatoes. And I really like the briny taste they bring. When combined with the mustard and the sharper notes of the shallot, I think they add a nicely rounded flavor to the final product. Slightly tangential to this recipe, if your local store has an olive bar, be on the lookout for caper berries. These are pods that contain immature capers, and they are delicious. They have a slightly crunchy texture, and taste something like a cross between pickles and olives. I love them.
HULK SMASH (potatoes)!
I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t like the name of this recipe. Sometimes it’s just fun to smash things. In this case, it’s potatoes, and while they don’t put up much of a fight, it might give you some stress relief at the end of the day to smash some spuds. The goal is to break the pieces down into something that’s easy to pick up on your fork. You’re not looking for the super smooth consistency of classic mashed potatoes, but you want it more broken up than a potato salad. The back of a spoon is a perfect tool for this. You’ll end up with larger chunks held together by their more smashed brethren. This uneven texture is fantastic for holding on to sauces, such as that you get with sauerbraten or ribs, so be sure to ladle on your favorite sauce nice and thick, and use these potatoes to mop it up.
This recipe is best served warm, but it’s no slouch if you eat it cold the next day for lunch. Feel free to make it ahead of time and give it a quick jaunt in the microwave to warm it up. We hope you enjoy this quick, hearty side.
- 2½ lb medium yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold
- 1 tablespoon whole-grain or coarse-grained mustard
- 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped drained bottled capers
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (1 large)
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Peel the potatoes. Your average potato should be cut into quarters, but smaller ones are ok just halved.
- Place your potatoes in a large pot, then fill with cold water until they are submerged by about 2" of water. Add a couple generous doses of salt to the water, and bring to a simmer.
- Hold at a simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until just tender (can be split easily with a fork).
- Meanwhile, whisk together mustard through shallot, then add the oil slowly while whisking.
- Drain the potatoes and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. Smash them with the back of a spoon or a potato masher (that's what it's for!). Do not try to get a completely uniform, smooth texture, these are supposed to be a bit rustic.
- Add the dressing and fold to combine. Best served warm.
We love these warm smashed potatoes with sauerbraten for a cozy Oktoberfest meal!