“Top Chef” winner shares secret to making perfect smashed potatoes – The Mercury News

Restaurant News

You probably know Brooke Williamson as the winner of Bravo’s 2017 “Top Chef.” And if you frequent Los Angeles’ buzzy restaurant scene, you may know the chef is a native Angeleno, whose restaurants — Playa Provisions and Da Kikokiko, among them — reflect that coastal vibe. What’s lesser known: Williamson has a soft spot for the rugged outdoors, cattle drives and the joys of unplugging in Montana, especially if it’s at the Resort at Paws Up, a luxury ranch where culinary events and adventuresome activities mix.

Chef Brooke Williamson at last summer’s Bounty on the Blackfoot. (Courtesy Amber Turpin) 

For the last five years, Williamson has participated in the ranch’s Bounty on the Blackfoot, an alfresco  feast served on the riverbank. Now she’s sharing the recipe for the addictive, crispy smashed potatoes she served at last summer’s event — with a saffron aioli for dipping. (It’s not a recipe for New Year’s resolutions, but it’s totally delicious. Everything in moderation, right?)

“I like to cook potatoes this way for added texture — more so than typical roasting,” she says. The trick is to “smash (the potato) to expose the soft inside, then fry the potato, so the outside is crispy. What results is more flavor and an interesting texture, allowing the dish to have more of a focus on the potato itself.”

Here’s how it’s done.

Brooke Williamson’s Crispy, Smashed Potatoes


2 pounds mixed heirloom fingerling potatoes

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for deep frying

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

½ cup sliced scallions, green stems included (optional)

½ cup crispy fried garlic (optional)

Saffron aioli (recipe follows)


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Let them cool slightly.

Cover the potatoes with another layer of parchment and, using the palm of your hand, smash them until they are slightly flattened but not falling apart. Allow them to cool completely.

Heat oil in a fryer or deep, heavy cooking pot to 350 degrees. Drop the cooled potatoes into the hot oil and fry until crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain fried potatoes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet, and season them again with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the warm seasoned potatoes on a platter and garnish them with scallions and fried garlic, if using. Serve the saffron aioli on the side for dipping.

Chef Brooke Williamson served these addictive, crispy smashed potatoes at last summer’s Bounty on the Blackfoot. (Courtesy Amber Turpin) 

Saffron Aioli


2 tablespoons hot water

Large pinch saffron threads

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup olive oil


In a small bowl, crumble the saffron threads into the hot water. Let them steep 10 minutes.

Using a blender, combine the garlic, egg yolks, lemon juice and salt. Add the saffron-water mixture and blend until smooth.

With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify the aioli into a mayonnaise-like consistency. Taste for salt and acid, adding a little more lemon juice and salt if needed.

— Chef Brooke Williamson

Source: Thanks https://www.mercurynews.com/top-chef-winner-shares-secrets-to-making-perfect-smashed-potatoes