Travel & Life Digest

Potatoes: Smashed

Recently, I watched this documentary on Francis Mallmann, an Argentinian Chef, who cooks with fires and likes to burn things! Are you thinking "story of my life"?
I was mesmerized little by little by the peaceful landscape.
Mallmann usually works from his cabin on a small island in a lake, on the border of Patagonia and Chile. Everything is basic and very primal in a way, yet I'd love to join in one of his dinners with a backdrop of the Patagonian mountains. He calls his assistants a band of "Gypsy Chefs" and they all cook in the open countryside, building up fires.
It's not all meat though, he cooks fish, enclosed in clay from the lake, which he then covers in ash.
He creates traditional Patagonian fire pits, which he then covers with branches and slow-cooks vegetables wrapped up in a cloth and covered with earth. A hidden treasure chest of warm food!

He also  cooks potatoes, a staple of Patagonia and they are smashed! He actually won a culinary Prix d' Excellence by just cooking potatoes, eight-ways! As soon as I saw this I wanted to try it. And I googled it off course. Everybody has done it: Martha, Jamie, the Pioneer come I've never heard of "smashed potatoes" before?
This is a wonderful recipe for barbeque too, provided you have a flat surface to cook on. It's such an easy recipe, yet the fact that potatoes are cooked twice, results in fluffy flesh and crispy skin, you'll be hooked, promise!

Smashed Potatoes
- 250gr Jersey Royal Baby New Potatoes (or any other local variety of small potatoes with thin skin)
- 25gr butter
- salt & pepper
Wash away all the dirt off the potatoes.
Cover the potatoes with enough boiling water and boil them until they are soft all the way through, this should roughly take 15 minutes.
Tip the potatoes into a sieve and drain away the water.
Place the potatoes one by one on a chopping board and with the help of a broad knife smash them lightly, by pressing down. Be very careful and work slowly.
If you don't have a broad knife, use a flat, broad spatula. Use your free hand to weigh down the spatula (or knife) on top of the potato. Don't smash it completely, you want the flesh to still be attached, not completely mashed.
Put a hot non-stick pan or griddle on the fire and when it's really hot transfer the potatoes one by one onto the hot surface. Let the skin cook and get crispy.
After 3-4 minutes flip them over with the help of a spatula, carefully, they tend to break off.
Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the skin is dark brown and crunchy.
Just before you take them off the heat drop some bits of butter all around the potatoes.
Salt and pepper and you are in business.
A serving suggestion:
- 3 tbsp. of Salsa Verde (recipe here)  
- 1 small sweet red onion, chopped finely
- 2 small tomatoes, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp. of olive oil
- juice of one lemon
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and spoon over the hot potatoes, it's crunchy, fresh and creates a great contrast with the hot, soft potatoes.
This kind of a chimichuri dressing works  perfectly over grilled chicken too.

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