Lori's Skillet Smashed Potatoes

Lori's Skillet Smashed Potatoes Recipe

I recently spent a weekend in the backwoods of Mendocino County. Let me emphasize that when I say backwoods, I'm not kidding. We're talking a few miles off the nearest paved road where a high-clearance 4x4 is a necessity, past numerous cleverly-rigged hydroponic hippie buses (this is clearly where old buses go to die), beyond a pack of car-chasing, fang-toothed guard dogs, and eventually down into the riverside sanctuary that is my friend Lori Narlock's cabin. Before I get into the details of our weekend, I'll just say (feeling more than a bit guilty), I hardly lifted a finger all weekend - Lori cooked for our cabin of six females, meal after delicious meal. Today I'm going to feature her skillet smashed potato recipe - first because they were delicious, and second to demonstrate how equal part thoughtfulness, experience, and prep work can culminate in delicious meals, even under rustic conditions.

How rustic you might ask? As I was packing that was exactly the question I kept asking myself as well. I had a few clues based on the flurry of pre-trip emails - including snippets of information like this:

"The cabin is very rustic. There are two bedrooms with one bed each and then two-single beds in the living room....There is no real electricity. We mostly read, play scrabble, drink copious amounts of beer and wine and gab by day and lantern."

And then:

"Please bring clogs or other slip on shoes for using at night if you need to
get up and use the loo--there have been a few creepy crawlers show up every now and then."

I later found out that creepy crawlers=scorpions. Lori's sister Lisa also chimed in with the following:

"Let me please add that this is not a "Tahoe" cabin, and any slippers or such that you wear around the cabin may very well get filthy - so I would leave your favorite white slippers at home."

So, if your imagination is prone to run amuck like mine does - I was preparing for a weekend in the rain, in a shack (moon through the slats in the roof, spiders through the gaps in the floorboard), huddled by a stove in a Theodore Kaczynski-style shelter. Something along the lines of an overgrown outhouse. This is what's going through my mind, and I was completely up for it. I mean, there was no tent involved, so this was going to be an upgrade for me any way you look at it. You can imagine my surprise (and delight!) when I walked into this....

Skillet Smashed Potato Recipe

The cabin sits on a huge plot of land owned for generations now by the Narlock family. The cabin was built by hand, and an amazing amount of t.l.c. has gone into it. Pictures of the family line the walls, as well as artifacts various family members have contributed. It's the kind of place you're immediately comfortable - complete with wood-burning fireplace, the sound of the river in the backdrop - and the stove! Can you believe the beautiful stove?

Lori put this family treasure to good use over the course of the weekend, but before I get into that, let me back up a bit and say - it's great to have a host who also happens to be a food writer. I'm sure many of you are familiar with Lori's work on books like The Food Lover's Companion to the Napa Valley, The Wine Lover's Guide to the Wine Country, Smoothies, The Niman Ranch Cookbook , and Cocktail Food. She's fantastic and talented on every front. Watching the way she pulled together meals for us in the cabin (no electricity, water that takes an hour to boil) was fascinating - and it gave me all sorts of cooking/prep ideas for future "rustic/camping outings"....in part because she was so smart about how and what she prepped before she even got to the cabin.

Skillet Smashed Potato Recipe

For what she was serving up, Lori's meals were coming together with barely a bead of sweat from her brow (or at least she made it look that way). So I started asking her about some of her tricks for cooking at the cabin. The skillet smashed potatoes were a great example. She pre-boiled the potatoes and brought them that way - In the morning, just before breakfast she smashed them into a big skillet with some olive oil and salt - in a few minutes they were crispy and brown on the outside, hot on the inside, and the perfect complement to the frittata she threw together. I also have to mention the pasta she made for dinner later that night - outrageous amounts of garlic (in a good way), tons of shredded zucchini, and grated cheese. She'd boiled off the noodles the night before we got the cabin. Do you know how many times I've struggled boiling noodles over a camp stove? You don't even want to know. Her pasta was delicious - the noodles weren't mushy or sticky at all. Maybe I can convince her to guest post about it when we come around to zucchini season again. Lori had all sorts of great shortcuts like this that never compromised the end dish.

So, here's how she made her skillet mashed potatoes. Imagine all the things you could drizzle or sprinkle on them. Thanks for the recipe and the great weekend Lori! I'll sleep with the scorpions any time...

Lori's Skillet Smashed Potato Recipe

The great thing about these potatoes is that you can boil them off (pre-cook) the night before. they come together in just a few minutes just as you are ready to serve the rest of your breakfast or brunch.

one small bag of small potatoes (yukon golds, fingerlings, or something similar)
salt & pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil

Start by placing the potatoes in a large saucepan. Add a teaspoon of salt and cover with water. Don't peel the potatoes, because the skin helps keep the potatoes together. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil until they are tender enough to slide a knife in easily. It is important not to over-boil them, for golf ball size potatoes about 10 minutes or a little less. Drain the potatoes and refrigerate until you are ready to brown them in a large skillet.

Heat the olive in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Keep in mind it needs to be big enough to hold the potatoes, which double in size when they are smashed. Smash each potato with a masher or the bottom of a heavy glass. Season with salt and pepper and cook until crisp, and them turn and cook the other side. Sprinkle with chives, fresh herbs, whatever and serve.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Dear Heidi,
I started reading and let out a howl of laughter! What a crack up to read about our weekend. And then, my eyes filled up with tears. This cabin was my father's second love and this post feels like a tribute to all the hard work he put into it so he and everyone he knew could enjoy it. Thank you for capturing what I never would have been able to. Now, I need to find a kleenex!
Thank you,


Yum - Heidi/Lori, these potatoes look great! Brilliant move pre-boiling them. That would be hugely useful for a ski weekend breakfast rather than waiting ages for water to boil on some cruddy stove top! The cabin looks beautiful. Glad you enjoyed!


I make these all the time. Except I call them Cracked Potatoes!

S. from The Student Stomach

When you're going so rustic that you're short on stove top space, this recipe also works pretty well by sticking the smashed potatoes in the oven and roasting for a few minutes. No muss, no fuss, and voila - beautiful, golden-crusted potatoes!
I like to season with some garlic and dill, for a bit of extra flavor.


How absolutely charming!

Wicked Good Dinner

Beautiful! The potatoes and the cabin. Sounds like such a great weekend getaway -- my New York City self is very envious!


Interesting and atractive

In My country, Colombia we have "papas criollas" small yellow tender potatoes that grow faster than the ones you are familiar with. Those are made almost in the same way you have in this recipe and when they are too small are just fried and served with salt:"Papas Criollas Fritas" Delicious!

Eduardo Leiderman

I was not nearly as interested in the recipe as I was in the stove-I have almost (mine does not have the side oven-but everything else-including the Wedgwood label) the exact one in my house!! I thought it was joke and continued to read to see if someone I knew had sent it to me! Crazy small world!


That was the weekend we were in San Francisco! I remember because we missed the chance to see you this time. Then again, now that I see the cabin (ay carumba, I'd go there any time!), I don't feel bad anymore.

And thanks for labeling this gluten-free!


I know the backwoods, off roads of Mendocino well and they are enchanting and scary all at once. This cabin certainly looks like luxury up there. The feeling of the place, as well as the smashed potatoes, evokes so many good feelings. Thanks for sharing that~ jeni


What a lovely resourcing week-end you had. Your friend has a nice cabin and her potatoes looks great!


Why wait till zuke season? Pester her now for the pasta recipe so no one forgets to mention it later! Do you suppose she just cooks the pasta to the point that only another minute is needed for al dente? That way it finishes cooking and gets hot in one move.

Wow on the potatoes. I know these are yum. It's what we used to do with leftover new potatoes. Just never thought of cooking them to do this on purpose. Yes!


Loved your story and those great images. I could almost smell the food cooking and feel the fun that transpired. What a day brightener!

Marilyn Graveen

When camping, substitute rice noodles for normal pasta. Easy enough to soak in a bowl of hot water to "cook" them... If you want regular pasta simply cook it until it is al dente (if you take a piece of pasta out of the water and it is cooked on the outside with a little core of white in the middle when you bite off the end, it is al dente). The pasta will store MUCH longer this way and will be perfectly cooked when you reheat it (which, when camping can be done by throwing it into some boiling water for a few seconds or, more easily, by mixing it with the sauce or garnish over the heat for a while).


Those smashed potatoes look gorgeous! What a great cabin!




The potatoes are great, but more than anything I love that cabin!!!

Tino J

First time posting... Seconding the demand for the pasta&zucchini recipe!

The concept sounds interesting/good enough to experiment with now, but it's always nice to see structured recipes for further inspiration.

Ms. Swanson, I really enjoy the way you talk about food and making it. Other websites I've seen compared to yours are almost strictly recipes, and, almost needless to say, I don't frequent them nearly as often as I show up here looking for ideas. You're doing a wonderful job, and it is appreciated. Thank you.


What a wonderful post, lovely read, gorgeous cabin and yummy potatoes!

And thirding (is that a word?) request for pasta & zucchini recipe.

And seconding Liz's comments about your website. Just a smashing place!

Mary M Morrell

First time posting as well... seconding Liz's compliments!

I get so excited every time a new recipe pops up at the top of my Gmail page. These potatoes look delicious! I can't wait to play with this recipe. Just out of curiosity, what was the main dish?

Thanks for your delicious recipes, beautiful pictures and inspiring stories!


Wow...what a kitchen! What...dare I say "Smashing!" potatoes! OK now that I look above, I'm not that clever, it's been said. Oh well, I am writing it anyway!


Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. And that stove... to die for. What a wonderful family treasure to have. I love how food is a part of that living heirloom as well. Thank you for sharing.

Asata Reid, Life Chef

These potatoes popped up on my gmail, and I linked straight over. They look beautiful, and a touching story, not least Lori's comment! I make something similar to these with chorizo, garlic and pepperdew peppers added. They're meant to be an accompaniment but often I'll find myself working out what I can eat with them to have them, or just making them on their own! Picture here : http://img81.imageshack.us/img81/762/dsc0320op9.jpg


What a wonderful sounding weekend! Good company, good food, and a relaxing location...what more could you ask for!


As one of the lucky guests for this lovely weekend, I can attest to the delicious-ness of these potatoes! To have these little gems prepared so artfully in such a gorgeous setting - wow! I've tried them myself since with some success - i can never capture that outdoor flavor inside and Lori's touch, but I can imagine...


I spent a whole week in a rustic cabin without running water earlier this fall and cooked to my hearts content (for myself and for my blog), enjoying how methodical and relaxed I had to be about the process. You have no choice but to savor it and then savor the food that results. But you're right in that it's all about the preparation thought you put into it before you even pack the car. Beautiful photos!


These are great indeed! I make them in the oven too and my son calls them Defeated Potatoes because I flatten them with the potato masher before they go in and they look like they've been stomped on by a dinosaur or some other large creature only an 11-year-old boy who aspires to be a comic book artist could dream up.


Lovely cabin! Absolutley gorgeous stove! I'd be happy to just sit and watch someone cook on it...esp those potatoes


Fatastic! I almost always pre-cook potatoes the night before, so they're ready to turn into whatever as soon as I get home from work, but I never thought of smashing them in the skillet! Brillient!
(I'm a new blogger, by the way - hi!)

Astra Libris

Indeed, those rustic potatoes look good! Adding a handful of chopped fresh rosemary would be fantastic.

And Heidi, great photo, as always. :-)

Greetings from Mexico!


Seems simple enough!


I make these a lot, too. I thought I invented the recipe. :) I add parmesan cheese, a splash of milk and butter (instead of olive oil). They're delicious with meatloaf or chopped steak or anything you'd serve with mashed potatoes.


How wonderful to be pleasantly surprised! Usually when you are surprised by camping accomodations, the surprises are not pleasant! And the potatoes look and sound delicious. Simple food is so great in the wild.

Deborah Dowd

Oh, Yum! My mother makes these and I never get tired of the crispy, brown outside and the creamy inside. So many wonderful herbs compliment these potatoes but my favs have to be garlic rosemary.

Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the wonderful tale of your weekend. Your recipes are always lovely but your writing brings me back every week. The art of telling a good story is so rare today and you have a true knack for evoking images with words. Don't ever let it go.


My father used to make this for us. He called it Lapskaus (sp?) a German-Czech combination, usually with meat. So leftover potatoes were always something to look forward to...for breakfast lunch or dinner. I always have a a little jar of chopped nuts with spices in the fridge and sometimes for a simple meal all I need is the potatoes(or pasta) with a dusting of this nut mix. Mmm, I'm off to the kitchen to make some.


I would LOVE to cook in that kitchen. Please let Lori know if she ever needs a house sitter. ;)

Susan from Food Blogga

Great story and great recipe! Thanks!


Wonderful story, images that brought tears to my eyes and memories of a stove like it under a different name in the countryside of England. And the recipe seems like one that would be very easy and yummy to do for my young ones! Thanks

Yael Brisker

Oh, if only we could take that beautiful home and put it in the little city I live in. I would love a home like that.
And thanks for the easy but (I'm sure) wonderful tasting recipe. It reminds me of how my great grandmother used to cook.


One of my favorite memories as a kid was my grandma's fried potatoes sprinkled with loads of pepper. Nothing like potatoes for comfort food. Thanks for this fantastically easy recipe. It is sure to be a hit with my family!

Lori in Brazil

It sounds like you had such a fabulous time. I've never had to cook when camping, but I can't imagine what it would be like if I did. It takes me an hour to whip anything up as it is! Pre-prep never even occurred to me.

Now, I'm off to the store to pick up some stuff to try some smashed potatoes...


How long do you fry scallops before you make them get tuff or brown too much???


Your story popped up on top of my gmail and because i love potato's I had to look. The cabin in the woods the food, what's not to like about that.

My mother used to cook potato's for nearly every meal. And my personal favorite was sliced thin and fried till crunchy, I like texture and i can see how these smashed potatat's could go over so well.

We lived in a rustic cabin up by kyberz when I was young, had a river out our back door. Your story brought back a lot of good memories.

Thanks ang happy holidays everyone



that cabin looks amazing!! thanks for sharing your weekend with us.


I made these with baby Dutch yellow potatoes on a stove much more rustic than the Wedgewood (but with full electricity and running water, lol), and they came out beautifully. I also used Lawry's instead of salt and pepper, because crass as it might be, Lawry's still marries well with fried potatoes.


Mmm potatos always make me happy, and there are so many easy ways to use them to the best advantage! I love the planning ahead of camp cooking and it's wonderful in how simple it would be to simply bring them along and get help smashing them for the pan. No doubt there would be volunteers for that job!


Thanks for this easy recipe.The flavour of olive oil and pepper is appetizing .

Cruelty-free vegetarian store

Thanks for the easy recipe . The flavour of olive oil and pepper are great …appetizing!

Cruelty-free vegetarian store

Not only do the potatoes sound heavenly, so does the cabin! I'm so jealous! Thanks for sharing this recipe, and I'd love to see the pasta recipe! :)

Dawn @ Coming to a Nursery Near You

I made these last night with a slight modification. I threw a few garlic cloves into the water and then kept them in the pan when frying them up. They were fantastic.


I'll try them! I'd love to hear more details/tips/instructions about the Pasta/garlic/zucchini/cheese dish...!!!!


I'm from India & here in India Kolkata,Thaere ARE a number of recepies that are just spicy and tasty,The recepies can nbe found at Discovery Channel's Lifestyles BY ANTONIO BOURDAIN1!Want to come to INDIA KOLKATA:CALL AT 0919874112580 INDIA


What a beautiful cabin! What great prepare ahead tips. The skillet mashed potatoes look so great, they will definitely get a spin in my kitchen! Thanks for sharing!


one food guy

Thanks for this post and pictures. Smashed potato with olive oil and onion was one from the favorites in my childhood and still it is!


What a charming cabin! You are very lucky. Those potatoes look beautiful. I had an argument with my mother this year about Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. I think they get cold too fast. I wanted boiled. We settled with rice pilaf but next maybe yours will win out. Thank You!


I love this type of rustic cooking!

Flo Bretzel

so charming!! i caught these photos over on flickr and discovered it is YOU that is the curator of this awesome blog. i have lurked for many months just loving this site...let me come out of 'lurkdom' to give you a big hug and a million thanks for inspiring me on so many levels. i love to cook, bake, and shoot photos of my kitchen experiences...and i am instilling this love into my 4 kids daily. this site has big a part of that ! :)

thanks heidi :)



My Grandmother used to make a similar dish with "new" potatoes, the first dug. She would boil them then fry them in oil till they had the crispiest outsides. We would then eat them with butter and sour cream.

This dish hailed the beginning of summer for me when I was kid. I can't get the same results she could, but I do try as best I can. Thanks for bringing back old memories of better days.


love potatoes~


YOYO Cooking

Feel good comfort food is like poetry that kisses lips, makes mouths water, warms tummies and make toes curl. The infusion of the potatoe's fragrance, inhaled by all, brings Kings, princes and paupers to their knees on common ground. Lori's skillet smashed potatoes soothe the body and heal the soul. This simple senses' food reigns and wears the crown.


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