Thursday, 26 March 2009

Lovely smashed potatoes

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

As part of the Charlotte potato festival that is taking place in my house, I made these for lunch, and ate them with a griddled chicken breast.
Quite idiotically delicious, even though I say so myself.

Take your potatoes, boil in salted water for about fifteen minutes. You want them very yielding, even slightly overdone. Drain and let dry. Then throw them into a frying pan with a good gloop of extra virgin olive oil, and smash them about with a wooden spoon until they break into rough chunks.

Keep the heat fairly low - the point is not to make the potatoes at all crispy, but let them absorb all the delectable olive oil. You may, if the fancy takes you, throw in a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves at this stage. Keep them moving, as you do not want them to brown. This all takes about ten minutes. At the very end, add as much torn basil as you like (I like a LOT), and stir until it has just wilted. Add a good pinch of Maldon salt, and a grind of pepper.

I know these seem quite a complicated set of instructions for a very simple dish, but in some ways it proves my point about cooking, which is that it is not some mysterious alchemy that only a chosen few have the talent for, it is merely the infinite taking of pains. In this recipe, precisely because it is so simple and requires so few ingredients, there is no hiding place. If you heat the pan too much, you will lose the flavour of the olive oil, and also the melting texture of the potatoes, and burn the garlic. If you throw the potatoes into the oil before they are dry, you will dilute it, and again lose flavour and texture. All of which is why, as Sarah will tell you, I am unabashedly bossy when it comes to food.

A final footnote: most of the recipes we put up here are our own inventions. We are not very good at following cookery books precisely (too impatient and bolshie) and so mostly make up our own stuff. Although we do sometimes go to bed with Nigel Slater. If ever we find a recipe that is too good not to share, we will always credit its author. Otherwise, you may assume that the thing is the product of our own fevered minds.


  1. P.S. Ref. my comment in previous post, goes without saying Amazon parcel also included latest books by lovely Nigel Slater & Madhur Jaffrey! Can resist everything except culinary temptation…

  2. Londongirl - my adoration for Nigel Slater knows no bounds. Am also rather keen on an Australian called Donna Hay, who does lovely short simple recipes, very clean and fresh, with beautiful photographs.

    Thank you SO much for buying book. Tx

  3. Oops! Here's my earlier comment again (to save all that timewasting scrolling back!Time far better spent smashing potatoes):

    Unfortunately, don't live near independent booksellers either (sorry Lucy Fishwife!) so had no choice but to purchase from Amazon. But suffer from bibliophilic crack like other poor mortals, and finished up, well considerably poorer, having bought your book (reduced!) plus oodles more mentioned in previous comments/posts. Particularly liked Backwards and Nora Johnson's The De Clerambault Code.(Already have a copy of P Ackroyd's House of Dr Dee lurking somewhere).

  4. Will definitely try this..... love your approach and Nigel Slater too. How much would you love him to cook you a dinner??
    Have ordered your book, know I'm going to devour it - especially as Dorothy Rowe has given it a thumbs up, another like of mine....

  5. Edwynuk - I DREAM of Nigel being my best friend, available for cooking and chatting at any hour of day or night.

    As for D Rowe: she has been a heroine of mine for years. I did a whole thing about her in the book, which Sarah very kindly allowed me to keep in, because it was really a sort of fan letter. Then it turned out that Dorothy Rowe is published by our editor; so the book was sent off, and we got that quote on the front. That was a now I can die happy moment.

  6. Nigel Slater is a god - as much for his joyous and inspiring writing as for his delicious recipes. I tend toread my way throughhis book not to find a recipe, but just for fun.

    Another great food writer is Giorgio Locatelli - and the lovely woman Sheila Keating who puts his amazing knoweldge into food poetry. I can honestly say I sat sown and read an entire chapter on the art of risotto and loved every word - and he imparts his knowledge for every food type.

    Highly recommended.

  7. Tried these today. Beyond tasty. Yes. Beyond.


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin