“Baby Got Smashed” Pan Roasted Potatoes

This is a super-fast and super-easy way to put potatoes on the plate without resorting to the same-old same-old boring ideas. It’s one part boiled potatoes, one part baked, one part mashed, one part “fully loaded” and all parts delicious. It is also versatile – while it is best when cooked in a Big Green Egg, it works just fine in the oven, on the no-heat side of a two burner grill, or even directly over the coals if you keep an eye on it.

Regardless of how you cook these, however, you must have a cast-iron skillet. That part is what the kids call non-negotiable. Otherwise, all you need are a handful of ingredients, a pot of water, and a heat source. And I’m pretty sure you have all of those. Ready? Go.

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What you need:

A handful of mini potatoes
a couple of slices of bacon
some grated pecaoino romano cheese

You will notice there are no actual amounts … it’s not one of those recipes. Make as much as you need – more potatoes for a bunch, less for just one or two. Just make sure that your cast iron skillet is large enough to hold the potatoes comfortably. You will see what I mean in the surprisingly helpful pictures below.

Put your potatoes into a pot, cover them with water, add a big pinch of salt, and bring them to a boil over high heat. When the water starts to boil check the time and let them boil for 14 minutes. When they are done you should be able to slide a sharp knife into one with ease, but still feel a bit of resistance. Take them from the heat, drain the boilng water off, and refill the pot with cold water. Leave the potatoes in the pot of cold water until you are ready to finish preparing them.
While the potatoes are boiling, put your bacon in the cast iron skillet and cook until it is nicely crisp. Remove the bacon and chop it into bacon-bit-sized pieces. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
Now for the smashing part. Get yourself the largest size spoon in your cutlery drawer, and one at a time gently smoosh each potato down into a flattened disk with a small depression on the top. Don’t smash the potatoes so badly that they break into pieces – keeping them in the water until you are ready to crush each one will help keep them from breaking apart.
“Smoosh” is a highly technical term.

Arrange your flattened potatoes into the cast iron skillet (which still has two strips’ worth of yummy bacon fat in the bottom) and then fill each little depression with a dab of butter, a pinch of grated romano cheese, and a few bacon bits. Pop it into your cooking apparatus of choice and roast the potatoes in the pan at 175 – 200 degrees C (that’s 350 – 400 degrees F) for about 20 minutes. The potatoes are already cooked, you just want to crisp up the surfaces and melt the butter and cheese. If you are using something with indirect heat (your oven, a Big Green Egg, the off-side of a multi-burner grill) then just pop them in and let them go.
If you have to use direct heat (your stovetop or right over the coals of a small grill) then put the pan on the heat for the first 5 minutes, take it off the heat and cover it with a plate for 10 minutes, and then put it back onto the heat for the last 5. Serve immediately. And if you are smarter than I am, you will remember to actually add the bacon.
I mean, really. Who forgets the bacon?

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