Recipe: parmesan gremolata smashed potatoes
What I think I know is inversely proportional to what I actually know.
When I met my mentor, Michael Frye, I had come to a point in photography where I felt I had hit a wall. I had been self-taught to that point. I thought I needed some technical guidance to get me past that wall and specifically asked Michael to address those issues. But we also spent nearly twelve hours shooting together. I was perfectly happy standing in the cold rain or driving in circles around Yosemite Valley trying to second guess the weather, although I wasn’t sure what I was necessarily “learning”. It wasn’t until days, weeks, even months later that I began to process and understand. Michael wasn’t just teaching me the zone system or giving compositional pointers – he was teaching me to see both in time and in space, to feel moods and interpret light in ways that were orthogonal to my previous way of thinking. He challenged me and I think he made me a better photographer.
Michael has released his second ebook Exposure for Outdoor Photography. I received a free copy (under no obligation), because Michael is nice like that. I’m sure many people think “I know about exposure, there probably isn’t anything new in there for me.” Well, I know about exposure and I still read it front to back. Even if Michael didn’t have a sentence of new information for me, his book would inspire, reinforce, and get me thinking.
Michael offers a proper treatment of exposure in terms of the fundamentals of outdoor photography, essentially making this a great basic guide for photography. Michael’s stunning works illustrate key teaching points and case studies. His sage advice is liberally sprinkled throughout the pages along with exercises to drive home important concepts. Even though the book seems to target “beginners”, Michael also touches on some intermediate and advanced techniques. What makes it so appealing to me is how Michael shares his thought process before, during, and after the shoot. So if you are wanting to up your game, this book might be a great place to start. Read Michael’s description on his blog. Unfortunately the discount has expired (sorry, I’ve been super busy!), but $5 is a steal for instruction from this master of nature and landscape photography.
The other day when I was shooting this recipe, we got a phone call from our neighbor. He said there was a black fox hanging out in another neighbor’s yard. We had seen that fox for the first time just a few days earlier. It was indeed black which made it special because ALL of the foxes around here are red. It’s actually a silver fox, but at that moment no one cared, we were all reaching for our cameras before it slipped away into the woods. My preference would have been to photograph the fox someplace other than the junk show that is my neighbor’s yard, but… you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
And then it was back to dinner because our tummies were grumbling after ski touring that afternoon. I was more excited about the side dish than the main, because it was potatoes. And I freaking love me some potatoes.
fingerling potatoes, olive oil, parsley, lemon, parmesan, garlic
boil the potatoes until cooked through
I’ve seen smashed, hot crash, smasher, etc. potatoes all over the interwebs, in magazines, and at restaurants. I really had no excuse for not having made them myself at home. What finally pushed me over the edge was a side of garlic smashers at The Kitchen Next Door. I think those bad boys are deep fried, but I decided to oven roast mine.
place on an oiled baking sheet
I picked up fingerling potatoes at the store because I like the idea of small foods. You can do this just as easily with regular potatoes, but you get more squashing action with little potatoes. If you don’t have a nifty smooth-surface meat tenderizer, use the bottom of a drinking glass or your palm (with a kitchen towel between your hand and the potato to avoid burns).
drizzle some olive oil
sprinkle sea salt
Pop those suckers in the oven to roast for a half hour. Be sure to flip them once at the fifteen minute mark because that helps promote nice, crunchy outsides on both sides. Meanwhile, you can prepare the Parmesan-gremolata.
grate lemon zest
mix the parsley, parmesan, garlic, and lemon zest together
it tastes as bright as it looks
When the potatoes are done, take them out of the oven and toss them with the gremolata. I know they look like little frogs that have been run over, but I surmise they taste muuuuuch better than froggy roadkill.
browned from the oven
toss the potatoes with the parmesan-gremolata
The potatoes are best served hot, so don’t dilly dally around once they’re out of the oven. The outsides are crisp and browned while the insides remain tender and fluffy. There is a sweetness to these potatoes which lends well to the bright lemon zest, sharp garlic, herbal parsley, and mellow cheese. This makes for a versatile and pleasing side dish.
but really, i’m all about those potatoes
Parmesan Gremolata Smashed Potatoes
inspired by The Kitchen Next Door
2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean
1/2 cup olive oil (or less)
1 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and minced
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced (should be about 1/4 cup when minced)
1 lemon, grated zest of
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water (about an inch higher than the potatoes). Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through (about 15 minutes for these little potatoes). Drain the potatoes and let dry in a colander or on a kitchen towel. Drizzle a little olive oil on a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet in a single layer, making sure to get some oil on the base of each potato, and gently press each potato flat with the flat side of a meat tenderizer or a heavy-bottomed drinking glass to about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness. Drizzle the olive oil over the smashed potatoes and then sprinkle salt over the potatoes. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping the potatoes over at 15 minutes with tongs or a spatula. While the potatoes are roasting, mix the garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven, and toss them in a large bowl with the Parmesan-gremolata. Serve hot. Serves 4 as a side dish.