As the Brits might say, these potatoes are ‘smashing’ as well as smashed. Steak Mock Frites is the brainchild of Sam Sifton of the New York Times. It’s not your typical meat and potato dish. I zeroed in on his treatment of potatoes, which seemed a bit strange, but I trust Sifton, so I gave it a try.
As it turned out, my version was a bit more primitive than his. That was possible because we used a different variety of potatoes. Also, it appears he might have peeled his spuds and I didn’t. I cooked my potatoes a little longer than indicated, too. Had mine been a little less done, they would have held their edges better when flattened. You start by boiling the potatoes until they’re softened, approximately 15 minutes, then draining and drying them well. Grease a sheet pan with some oil and put the potatoes on the pan.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Using a potato masher, or the bottom of a heavy glass, gently smash each potato, pressing it down to a thickness of less than an inch.
Next you drizzle some oil over the smashed potatoes, place them on the top oven rack of a 450 degree oven and roast until the exteriors are golden and crunchy, about 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. That’s all there is to it. This seems so simple and yet it’s unusually good—the outside tastes a bit like hash browns while the inside is more like mashed potatoes. Like French fries they’re highly addictive, but, at least, they’re not boiled in oil. These taters could easily be eaten fresh from the oven. But I experimented. I modified Sifton’s thyme-butter recipe, that he had put on the steak and allowed to puddle under the potatoes. Since I wasn’t cooking steak, I merely drizzled a small amount of the thyme-butter on top the finished potatoes. It wasn’t necessary, but it was a pleasant addition.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, minced
- 1 small shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Splash Champagne or white-wine vinegar
Cut the other ingredients into the butter until it is creamy and smooth. Scrape the butter together with a chef’s knife, and form it into a rough log. If making it ahead of time, you can roll it tight in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Use on steak or potatoes.