Smashed Potatoes

I’ve been bored, and I’ve found myself making the same stuff over and over again. I needed a new recipe. Thankfully, I found one that seems to be a huge crowd pleaser.

This recipe started off as a way to get rid of some ingredients I had lying around: potatoes that were getting old, a package of bacon I’d only used once and was about to go bad, etc. So the first time, I didn’t measure anything, I just sort of threw it all together.

After he went home, my brother-in-law asked for the recipe for the smashed potatoes, which is where I got the name for today’s post (thanks, Jon!). Of course, I didn’t have one. I picked the easiest way to solve this problem: I decided to throw another dinner party and attempted to recreate it. I think it worked out well, and decided I’d share the recipe. Whether you decided to call this smashed potatoes, loaded mashed potatoes, baked potato casserole, or something else, it’s definitely a new party favorite that I’m sure I’ll make again.

I dedicate this post to Jon, for being such a big fan of the smashed potatoes and for giving it a great name.

Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
5 pounds russet potatoes
8 slices bacon
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces heavy cream
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Scrub the potatoes and individually wrap in foil.
3. Bake the potatoes until soft (about an hour).
4. Rinse the shrimp, and mix with the pepper, basil, salt and garlic. Set aside.
5. In a large pan, cook all the bacon until crispy. Set aside.
6. Sauté the shrimp in the bacon grease until they are pink (about 5 minutes).
7. Remove the potatoes from the oven.
8. Remove the foil, and scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a large mixing bowl.
9. Add in all ingredients except the cheese and mix well.*
10. Place mashed potatoes in a large pan, and top with shredded cheese.
11. Bake for 15 minutes.

*TIP: I used an electric mixer and I did this in batches.

Time for Change

Summer is officially over next week, which may be why a good number of people are clinging to it. This time of year seems to be filled with last-minute picnics, requests to eat outside, and reminders to soak up the sun while it’s still here. I guess I’m not really ready to let it go, either.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall (and fall foods) as well, but there is just something about summer that’s hard to let go. I know it’s a little late, and if you’re a traditionalist, you may have to wait another year to try this one. However, if you’re like me, this could become the endnote on a beautiful season.

I can’t quite recall where this recipe started, and it’s been through many changes throughout the years. I do remember it being one of the first dishes I brought with me to a potluck. When I was younger, my mom had always been the one to bring a dish if a dish was required. At this particular event, it was one of the first times I was being asked to bring something, and I wanted to impress.

Why did I choose potato salad? How could I land on the right combination? Would be people enjoy it? All of these questions sent me to cookbooks and websites looking for a recipe that looked good, but would allow me the opportunity to get creative.

The thing about potato salad is that it generally has mustard. I’ve tried to like mustard, but I’m honestly just not a fan. The other thing about it is that the potatoes are often cut too large, and especially when they’re cold, it makes the whole mess harder to eat. So perhaps that was where I started, with a notion of a potato salad that was more like mashed potatoes.

However it started, I ended up with a long-standing tradition of bringing this dish to events; it even sort of became a family joke that this was the only thing I knew how to make. Given the nature of this dish, and the time between seasons, you may be inclined to think of this as potato salad or as mashed potatoes. Whatever you call it, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Mashed Potato Salad

Ingredients:
5 pounds of potatoes (almost everything except for red works)
30 ounces of mayonnaise
16 ounces froze mixed vegetables
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Boil the potatoes until tender (about one hour). Peel them before or after they are cooked; I tend to go with after.
2. In a medium pot, add the water and the mixed vegetables. Bring to a boil and drain the water.
3. Hand mash the potatoes to desired size (this is meant to be lumpy) and mix in the rest of the ingredients.