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Plain and simple, smashed potatoes are the best potatoes. Combining the best aspects of all preparations, you boil baby potatoes for the creaminess of a baked potato, but then smash them to jack up the surface area before roasting, resulting in a level of crispiness even a french fry could not achieve. This is the only recipe that never seems to yield any leftovers, no matter how much extra I make. I personally think the magic is all in the seasoning.
This mixture is my super-simplified recipe for baharat, an essential Arabic spice blend integral in Iraqi Jewish cooking, which combines warm spices like allspice and cardamom with sharper spices like black pepper and cumin. Every family truly has their own blend, so it’s not uncommon to find fennel seeds, rosebuds, nutmeg, chiles, or a laundry list of other aromatics present as well. It’s becoming more and more common to find jars of premixed baharat at specialty spice shops, so feel free to sub 11⁄2 tablespoons of your favorite baharat blend in lieu of the spices called for here.
To finish off these crunchy spiced potatoes, a drizzle of schug on the finished platter helps provide the zip that makes this dish truly irresistible.
2 pounds multicolor baby potatoes, scrubbed
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups packed fresh parsley leaves and tender stems (1 bunch)
2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (1 bunch)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 to 8 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
In a food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice, chiles, garlic, salt, coriander, and cumin and pulse to chop. With the motor running, slowly stream in the oil until a semi-smooth sauce forms. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Put the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Season the water with 2 heavy pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, running the potatoes under cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
Using the bottom of a measuring cup or glass, smash each potato on a cutting board until 1⁄4 inch thick. Transfer to a half sheet pan, spreading the potatoes out in an even layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pepper, sumac, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and a heavy pinch of salt. Drizzle the spiced oil over the smashed potatoes and gently toss to coat.
Roast the potatoes, flipping them once halfway through, for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
Transfer the potatoes to a platter, drizzle with schug, and serve.
Excerpted from JEW-ISH: A COOKBOOK: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch © 2021 by Jake Cohen. Photography © 2021 by Matt Taylor-Gross. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.