Monday, March 26, 2012

Crispy Smashed Fingerling Potato Fries

These fingerling fries may be the culinary equivalent of Beauty and the Beast... somewhat challenged in what we might consider attractive, but entirely magical.

While I have, on a number of occasions, admitted to being a Potato-Cheese-Bread girl at the core, it was the Mushroom-Nut burger at a local restaurant (Gruner) that we were after when we became entirely smitten with the fries... smashed fingerlings, of all things.

It's not that these little gems are that unusual. They are readily available... and roasting is mainstream. However, even the simplest of preparations can be eyeopening and these little taters prove this point. They offer all the goodness of the best baked potato (twice baked, if that's your thing) and all the love of a great crispy fry... a perfect match. Only they are oven-baked with just a scant bit of olive oil.

The thing with fingerlings is their size works for them. They are small, have good potato mass and, yet, when smashed have a great concentration of skin to crisp up. As such, they are magical.

I have no idea how Gruner achieved their little basket of goodness (served with an amazing homemade ketchup, by the way), but these little fingerlings started with a good parboil, until fork tender. Then they are drained and transferred to an olive-oil coated sheet pan... and smashed.

Then... dressed. A little drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper... and a sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese on this particular outing...

Then popped into a hot oven to roast for a good bit... until crispy... and golden... and magical...

Crispy Smashed Fingerling Potato Fries
inspired by the fries at Gruner restaurant, Portland, OR
a baker's dozen 

13 fingerling potatoes (2' to 2 1/2" in length)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit for oiling sheet pan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Parboil fingerings in a pot of boiling, slightly salted water. When fork tender, transfer to paper towels to drain. Meanwhile, brush a bit of olive oil onto a large sheet pan, to coat. Place fingerlings on sheet pan and, using a potato masher, carefully smash each potato with a gentle hand... so as not to pulverize them. If you lose a few bits in a smash, pull them in and pat into potato to hold together. Then drizzle with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and parmesan... and pop into oven to roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and crispy. Serve while still warm.

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