Take everything you love about a French fry — that crisp, golden-brown crust enveloping an oh, so fluffy interior — and flatten it.
In fact, go ahead and smash it.
Lately, I’ve been frying up smashed potatoes, and they’re everything I could want in a French fry and more. Each bite is like a tiny taste of culinary nirvana: crunchy yet delicate, full of flavor. Not to mention, smashed fries are the perfect width for dipping into your favorite sauce.
And they’re so simple to make. Boil a batch of small new potatoes, then carefully smash them with a fork. Pan-fry them in a shallow layer of oil just until the outer layer is richly golden, then gently lift them out, careful to remove any leftover crispy bits from the oil as well. (Aren’t the crispy bits at the bottom always the best part?)
You’ll probably be tempted to eat them straight out of the frying oil, but spare your fingers and taste buds the burn. Give the fries a minute or two to cool on a rack, enough time to sprinkle them with a little salt as you admire their rustic beauty. Then dig in.
In case you were wondering, this is not a healthful dish. So go ahead and embrace your creation. Gild the lily.
Start with a cool ranch dipping sauce. Rich and creamy, it’s garlicky but tamed somewhat by a little vinegar and spice. A handful of chopped fresh herbs help to round out the harmony.
TRICKS TO THE PERFECT SMASH
Here’s how you make smashed fries.
Use a fork to smash, instead of something flat. A fork will give the potatoes a more textured surface — ridges and valleys — and those little crispy bits.
You can boil the potatoes up to a few days in advance, then refrigerate them until you’re ready to fry (perfect when planning ahead for company).
A neutral oil — canola, vegetable or peanut — works just fine for frying, bringing out the rich flavor of the potatoes themselves. But feel free to be inventive. Lard is magical, and bacon fat is downright divine (surely, you have some lying around). And if you can find duck fat, I promise you’ll never want to fry in any other fat again. It’s the frying fat of the gods.