When I attended NYU for the first year and a half of college, I was an awfully homesick girl. As much as I loved the city, nothing seemed to click the way I’d hoped. I spent most of my time working as an after-school recess supervisor at the church across from my dorm and teaching myself the NYC subway system by getting lost over and over again. When I would come home from a long day, I would plop down on our dorm sofa and watch reruns of my favorite shows, Designing Women and The Barefoot Contessa. I watched the former because I missed southern accents, but the latter was all about tuning in to something warm, comforting and reminiscent of home. After a few months, I started to consider Ina Garten my mom-away-from-home. Not that I need another mother (I love my mom endlessly), but when I was away at school, I found that watching Ina on TV comforted me and made me feel like everything would be ok. When I couldn’t find anyone to go to a movie with, Ina was always there. When my roommates locked me out while they had a party, Ina was there (on the common room TV). Both her food and her friendly tone of voice on TV got me through some tough early years of learning to live far away from home.
Cut to 15 years later and I’m sitting in a crowd of over 500 people waiting to see Ina answer questions about her ninth cookbook, Make it Ahead, at Barnes & Noble in NYC. I was sitting behind Ina’s husband, Jeffrey Garten (the lucky man who comes home to a roast chicken every Friday) and trying to act like everything was normal while Julia interviewed Ina for the event. While I was of course happy just to be there, I was blown away by how well Ina handled every and any question thrown at her. From entertaining small groups of people in a tiny NYC apartment to the perfect brunch menu, she had practical and easy ideas for any occasion. It all boiled down to staying calm and preparing as much as possible ahead of time, the theme of her new book. It’s refreshing to see a celebrity cook admit that they get stressed out cooking and entertaining and need to find ways around that, just like the rest of us. Make it Ahead is full of great (and delicious) ideas that you can make most of the day before your guests arrive. Today I’m excited to share my favorite recipe from the book: Parmesan Chive Smashed Potatoes. Cheese, crispy bits of potato and chives? What’s not to love? xo, grace
Reprinted from Make it Ahead. Copyright © 2014 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Parmesan Chive Smashed Potatoes
Serves 4 to 6
This is a great way to cook potatoes! Boil them first, then smash them on a sheet pan, and finally roast them at a high temperature. You end up with tender creamy insides and lots of crispy edges. Grated Parmesan and fresh chives on top make them even better.
-1 pound mixed small Yukon Gold and red new potatoes, scrubbed
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-3 tablespoons good olive oil
-½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
-2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
-Fleur de sel or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 17 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer. Drain the potatoes and place on a sheet pan. With a potato masher or metal measuring cup, press each potato until it’s about ½ inch thick (they will be messy). Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper.
Roast the potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once, until the skins have become nicely browned. Sprinkle the potatoes with the Parmesan cheese and roast for another 2 to 3 minutes, just until the cheese melts. Sprinkle the potatoes with the chives and fleur de sel and serve hot.
Make It Ahead: Boil the potatoes and smash them on the sheet pan. Roast the potatoes and finish the recipe before serving.