Recipe For Smashed Potatoes

Why you should make rustic fries for your next dinner party

Listen, mashed potatoes. There's no nice way to say this, so here goes: We've decided to see other potatoes.

Truly, it's not you; it's us. You'll always have a special starchy place on our plates and in our butter-clogged hearts. But we've been thinking about French fries a lot recently. It's not just a restaurant infatuation anymore. We're ready to bring French fries home for the holidays.

What turned our heads? Other than that alluring golden tan and addictive crunchy bite, that is. We found a way to introduce shatteringly crisp fries into our holiday entertaining repertoire.

Trying to reproduce perfect Parisian bistro frites at home is a double-frying fool's errand. Who wants to cut, fry, cool and re-fry? Not to mention the hunt for horse fat if you want to get ridiculously authentic about it.

But if you're okay with something a little bit more rustic, French fry nirvana is within easy reach. And with this method, hot, crisp fries are faster and easier than mashed potatoes.

Here's the trick: Bake your potatoes first and then store them whole in the fridge until just before you're ready to serve crisp, hot fries.

"The key to any good French fry is to have that mashed potato inside with a crunchy shell outside," notes Dave Kirschner, Tasting Table's Test Kitchen sous-chef. "Baking is a foolproof way to get that interior texture consistently. A lot has to do with the time in the fridge, letting the starch proteins harden and caramelize."

Four steps to one delicious side dish

Kirschner suggests using eight potatoes for six people. Wash them and then toss–with the skins on–in a bowl with a few tablespoons of kosher salt. "They're hard to oversalt," he says. Bake unadorned on a sheet tray for about an hour and ten minutes at 350 degrees until they're "at that perfect point where they're just cooked through and you can get a knife in and out." [1]

Let the potatoes cool and then store them in the fridge for up to four days. While they're still cold, cut the potatoes into thin wedges [2]. Put enough canola oil in a 4-quart saucepan so it's about two inches deep. Heat the oil to 350 and drop in a small handful of potato wedges at a time, , letting them cook until golden brown [3]. Toss with sea salt [4].

Two ways to (easily) upgrade rustic fries

Optional upgrade #1: Replace canola oil with beef tallow. We tried Kobe beef fat from Snake River Farms. "Like really good dry-aged beef," Kirschner says. "Happy, happy."

Optional upgrade #2: Top the finished fries with a simple gremolata: chopped parsley, lemon zest, garlic and a few thin shavings of Parmesan.