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smashing good

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.

our dinner

but really, i’m all about those potatoes

Parmesan Gremolata Smashed Potatoes
[print recipe]
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.

55 nibbles at “smashing good”

  1. Bing Chou says:

    My coworkers at Quick Left and I grab lunch at KND fairly often and their smashers are easily the crowd favorite. Looks like I’ll be adding smashers into the rotation at home as well.

  2. Kristin says:

    I, too, have seen these all over the blogs, but it has taken a recommendation from you for me to think I might actually make them. It’s probably the gremolata! A living fox, even amidst junk, is an amazing sight. I’ve only seen unfortunate ones at the sides of highways, darn it.

  3. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    These potatoes look heavenly! I could eat just them for dinner!

  4. Tricia says:

    1) Totally checking out that ebook – we have such incredible scenery here but the light is ungodly variant and I struggle to capture everything I want the way I want in the time I have, especially exposure-wise. Will check it out – thanks!

    2) I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black fox! How beautiful!

    3) I want that on my plate right now…at barely 9am. Yes to the yum!

  5. Theresa says:

    You hit on several of my favorite foods with this recipe: crispy potatoes and Parmesan. I will be trying these ASAP!

    That silver fox is so beautiful I hardly noticed the junk in the background :) This statement really struck a note with me: “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.” I get that. I feel like I’m at a point with my photography where I have the technical skills I need (though they could always improve), so I need to focus more on the moods, interpretation and evoking feelings with my photography. Oddly, I find that much more challenging than the technical stuff!

  6. Kimberly says:

    I adore these potatoes but I’ve never thought to mix them with gremolota! I’ve used a potato masher and a heavy beer glass to mash mine down and both worked great.

    As always, the nature photographs are a treat!

  7. Mike Mallory says:

    LOVE those potatoes.

    I recreated those quite a while ago after I first ordered em. Gave mine a light fry in a cast iron instead of the oven…….But I’m gonna try that tonight!


  8. Roxy says:

    Tried the recipe for a quick lunch – delicious!! And so simple to put together.

  9. Russell at Chasing Delicious says:

    Yum! These potatoes look scrumptious. And I love all the flavors.

  10. betsy says:

    funny- as i was reading this i was listening to today’s interview with michael frye on npr and eating potatoes, though not exciting like your potatoes

  11. Mrs Ergül says:

    The potato when mixed with the parmesan-gremolata looks amazing! Will try this!

    Will check out the book you recommended :)

  12. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    That had me in fits – ‘they taste much better than froggy roadkill’!! Lovely pics and recipe as always and intrigued by the book. I know what you mean that sometimes learning and inspiration takes a while to trickle through and then you have that ‘ah-ha’ moment. Always in the hands of a good teacher.

  13. Carla says:

    I have a lone potato that’s getting smashed tonight. I bought that potato to boil for the “potato water” needed for a bowl of roll dough. Two goodies for the price of one!! LOVE it!!

    I’ve never seen a black fox..only red ones. Fantastic photos.

  14. Jill says:

    yum yum……..LOVE a potato, any way. Gonna send this link to my sister! She’s the cook.

    Isn’t it odd how some people collect trash? hugs, j

  15. MJC says:

    Thanks sooooo much for the link to print the recipe! I have been copying and printing for ages and this saves me so much time! Potatoes look amazing!

  16. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    Yum! I love seasoning potatoes with Parmesan and some sort of fresh herb. I’m sure the addition of garlic and lemon zest would take it to the next level.

    By the way, WHAT is that spiked contraption you are using to smash the potatoes? I feel like I need one in my kitchen!


  17. Charlie says:

    Lovely side! I can taste them already.

    Beautiful little guy!
    He probably likes the junk because he blends right in!
    He thinks he is camouflaged.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe and the pictures.


  18. Kelsey says:

    These look amazing. I cannot wait to make them and SOON!

  19. Shelley says:

    This is on the menu for tomorrow night. It looks amazing! I’ll report back…

  20. Dana says:

    “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” is a frequent refrain at our house! Lola, one of Tom Douglas’ restaurants in Seattle, makes the most amazing smashed potatoes and yours look even better. The gremolata? Yes please! A little crispy, a little soft, a lot savory. Basically the perfect dish.

  21. Ally Patterson says:

    Really tasty and super easy! The lemon was delish. Thx for sharing! Can’t wait to try The Kitchen Next Door’s version.

  22. jenyu says:

    Bing Chou – yeah, they deep fry, which I can’t stand doing. I like the oven option and I don’t have to pay a fortune for them either ;)

    Kristin – luckily we don’t see many dead foxes on the roadside – I think our foxes are pretty smart. We typically get a lot of squirrel roadkill… and we all know how stupid they are.

    Katrin – I kinda did the other day!

    Tricia – ;)

    Theresa – well yes, you can always learn the technical stuff, but it’s the creative side that can’t be gotten from a book.

    Kimberly – thanks!

    Mike – great :)

    Roxy – yay!! So happy to hear it. Aren’t they GREAT?

    Russell – me too.

    betsy – yes, Michael is quite the superstar, and he’s such an awesome guy.

    Mrs Ergül – I really like it with the gremolata – totally changes it up.

    Sally – Michael has been a terrific mentor and inspiration. He continues to be today.

    Carla – thanks!

    Jill – I hope you like it (and I hope she does too!)

    MJC – I know, it’s something I’ve been needing to do forever, but I just don’t have time. It’s not even where I want it to be yet, but I figured folks were having so much trouble printing the recipes :)

    Brandon – Ah, that’s my new meat tenderizer. I got tired of smashing beef and pork and chicken cutlets with the back of my knife (and possibly killing myself in the process). So I broke down and bought a meat tenderizer. The pokey side is for tenderizing, the flat side (which I used for the potatoes) is for flattening :) It’s awesome!

    Charlie – thank you.

    Kelsey – :)

    Shelley – yay!

    Dana – I have to agree. I never knew potatoes could be this good and yet not put twenty pounds on my butt ;) xo

    Ally – Awww, really happy to hear it!

  23. Margie says:

    Yummy, spuds, my favorite root veggie…. I’ve been guilty of ‘faking’ it with the use of dried ranch dressing and olive oil. I no longer have an excuse to cheat. :)

    I love that silver fox!

    Thanks for the heads up on Michael’s latest. WHAT A TALENT!!!!

  24. jake says:

    I’m from Arkansas, and last week we had our first taste of 70-80 degree weather…I made these for a cookout and they were eaten so quickly I only got a taste. By far, my new favorite way to prepare a potato…But let’s face it, never have I met a bad potato dish..

  25. megan says: you think that I could use red potatoes instead of fingerling?

  26. jenyu says:

    megan – yes, of course! i think the texture may be a tad different – but i’m sure it will be great.

  27. Meredith says:

    All I can say is, you are my jam. I check your site constantly and we seem to be on the same page in terms of what recipes we’re exploring! It’s so o nice to know that someone enjoys cooking in their home as much as me. Not to mention, I love your pictures from the wild west. As a SC native, I hope to move out there soon! You inspire me.

  28. zinnur says:

    What a brilliant idea to maximize the crunch in roasted potatoes! And smashing is therapeutical at the end of the day, too. i made this twice already and will make again for company tonight.

  29. Daily Deal says:

    Great potatoes recipe! Beautiful photos! Looking forward to more inspiring blog posts from you. Thanks.

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  34. Cindy C says:

    These look amazingly delish! l’m sure I could devour the whole in one sitting. Your pictures are beautiful – both of food and fox!

  35. Erin @ Texanerin Baking says:

    I saw these on Pinterest last night and made them for dinner just now. SO good! These are definitely our new favorite potato recipe. Way more exciting and flavorful than normal roasted potatoes. Thank you so much for the recipe! I can’t wait to make them again. :)

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  37. Katie says:

    I tried this tonight and it turned out pretty good! i had to use bigger potatoes because the fingerling ones are hard to find but other than that it was yummy!!

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  39. Kelli says:

    I made these potatoes last night for my husband, and he said they were the best potatoes he has EVER had. A true endorsement from a meat and potatoes kind of guy. They were amazing!

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  42. Cindy Johnson says:

    Made these for Christmas eve to go with Prime Rib. They were amazing, my family loved them. Lemon in it was a delight! Thanks for sharing.

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  45. Mary says:

    Thanks for the great recipe. I’ve made it a couple of times and enjoyed it. Tonight it’ll be served with sautéed lemon kale.

  46. Barb says:

    Served with a creamed spinach a nd a grilled ribeye

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  49. Barbara says:

    On the menu tonight! Can’t wait to try them – can’t go wrong with the ingredients – yum!

    Absolutely beautiful picture of that sweet little fox… Thank you for sharing it!

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  51. Susan says:

    Yum! I’ve made smashed potatoes before but not with the gremolata you made. We’re having steak for dinner & I am so going to try these!

    BTW, I love your fox photos!

  52. Efrat says:

    O, thank you! We are in love! These make our peeps happy every time!

  53. Natasha Rodriguez Mom 2 5321 says:

    Hello Jennifer, I found your recipe on Pinterest and can’t wait to try it at home! I would also love to share it on my blog.

  54. Amanda says:

    These made my mouth water!! They’re on the meal list for next week and I’ll be blogging about them.
    :-) Can’t wait to try them!!!

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