I know, it’s springtime, and I’m supposed to be posting delicate bundles of asparagus and radishes and artichokes. But radishes don’t work with fried chicken. Sometimes you need something springy but substantial, like these Smashed Potatoes with Chives.

What’s the difference between mashed and smashed? Mashed potatoes are supposed to be creamy. You peel the potatoes (usually russet or Yukon Gold), chop them, and once they’re cooked, you mash them within an inch of their lives (or put them through a ricer) to make sure they’re not lumpy.

Smashed potatoes are more rugged. You start with new potatoes and boil them whole with the peels on. Then you smash them by using the back of a wooden spoon to gently press the potatoes against the side of the pot, just enough to break their skins.

Now, your big, beautiful pot of smashed new potatoes is fit for corruption. I love to fold in melted butter and cream cheese, because the sweet tanginess of this mixture really wakes up the potatoes and primes them to showcase fresh herbs, like chopped chives or rosemary. But feel free to play around with the recipe and alter it to complement whatever flavors are in your main course. Trade the chives for basil and diced tomatoes. Or substitute the rosemary with bacon and parsley. The potatoes sound rich, but with so much flavor and texture, you won’t need two servings (or a ton of gravy) to feel satisfied.

My story. Sticking to it.

Smashed Potatoes with Chives

Adapted from “Cook’s Illustrated”

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), unpeeled and scrubbed
  • Table salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces), room temperature
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)
  1. Place potatoes in large saucepan, and cover with 1 inch cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until a paring knife can be inserted into potatoes with no resistance, about 45 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Discard the bay leaf, and drain the potatoes, leaving them in the pot to dry, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and chives.
  3. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash potatoes just enough to break the skins. Fold in the butter/cream cheese mixture. Add cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to loosen up the potatoes. (They’ll thicken slightly with time.) Serve immediately.