When I was first pregnant with Phoebe, one of the only meals I could stomach was a rather greasy egg and bacon biscuit sandwich from Manresa Bakery in Campbell, CA. The sandwich was served with crispy baked and smashed potatoes that came with an aioli dipping sauce. During that first trimester I could never stomach the potatoes and aioli—just a little too much grease in one dish, I suppose—but once my “morning” sickness wore off I thoroughly enjoyed the side of potatoes with creamy, garlicky aioli for dipping.
Crushed or smashed potatoes had a bit of a heyday a couple of years ago, but just because they aren’t showing up in every popular food writer’s book or blog these days doesn’t mean they aren’t still incredible. First tiny potatoes are boiled until just tender, then smashed on a baking sheet with plenty of oil and baked (basically shallow-fried) until the edges are super crisp and the insides are soft and creamy. If you want to speed your day-of cooking time up, boil the potatoes up to two days in advance and keep them in the fridge until you need them. Dipped in a super simple, luscious garlicky aioli (if you have a food processor, it comes together in minutes without any sweat off your back), they’re on another level. (Of course, you can skip the aioli altogether and eat these potatoes as a simple side dish.) Pair the potatoes and aioli with something simple like roasted or BBQ chicken, baked fish, or a hefty salad.
You will have leftover aioli; use it on sandwiches, boiled eggs, in potato salad, on savory toasts, or whatever else you can think of.
Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Aioli
Serves 5 | aioli adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in Dinner in French
for the potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs very small potatoes (all should be smaller than a golf ball), such as Yukon Gold
1 small yellow onion
scant 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for salting the water
7 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
for the aioli:
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (170g) olive oil
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Add the potatoes and boil until just tender and easily pricked with a knife, about 10 minutes, though the timing will vary depending on the size of your potatoes so check them often. You want them to be cooked enough to crush easily but not so cooked that they will break apart completely when smashed. When they’re done, drain and set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, cut the onion in half, then into 1/4 inch-thick slices.
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Sprinkle a large rimmed baking sheet with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Scatter the boiled potatoes across the tray and, using a small glass or measuring cup, smash them until they’re about 1/4 inch thick. Carefully, so as not to break them too much, toss the potatoes with the other 4 tbsp olive oil, the onion slices, scant 1 tsp kosher salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Spread into an even layer across the baking sheet.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, flipping the potatoes and onions once or twice during baking. They’re done when the edges and little cast off bits of the potatoes are super crispy and browned. Scatter with 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley. Eat warm.
While the potatoes bake, make the aioli. Combine 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp fine sea salt in a food processor.* Pulse a few times and then let sit for a couple of minutes to allow the garlic time to mellow. Add the egg and egg yolk and blend until fully combined. With the food processor on, pour in 3/4 cup olive oil in a very slow, steady stream, until all the oil is used up (you can pour more quickly when half the oil is left) and the aioli is totally emulsified; it will be the consistency of a slightly looser mayonnaise. Taste and add lemon juice and salt as needed. Either serve the aioli in a communal bowl for dipping, or allow diners to dollop a spoonful on their plate to dip from. (Note: the aioli will thicken in the fridge.)
*Feel free to make the aioli using a whisk or mortar and pestle if you don’t have a food processor. It’ll be much harder on your arms, but if you’re patient with pouring the oil in a very, very slow stream, it will work.
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