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    ‘Smash’-ing roasted crispy potatoes

    Emily Codik

    THE WASHINGTON POST – I was bombing on TikTok. I tried making videos in English and in Spanish. I created travel vlogs, restaurant guides and several recipes. But none of it was resonating – until I finally cracked the code and started going viral, including with one of my favourite recipes: crispy smashed potatoes.

    In the past few years, sharing healthy recipes on Instagram had become a passion of mine. I loved the idea of creating a dish in my own kitchen, then making a video that could inspire other cooks to try it too.

    So I spent countless hours trying to figure out TikTok’s “for you” page – where the algorithm spews out a never-ending stream of addictive content. I immersed myself in the world of a soft-spoken beekeeper. A mom cooking for her 12 kids. An actual mermaid.

    I learnt that the app isn’t just about jokes and dancing. Some of the most fascinating TikTokers offer a window into their daily lives. What’s mundane to them – working in the South Pole or as a shearer – can be fascinating to the rest of us.

    I work as an editor for The Washington Post based in Rio de Janeiro and soon realised that TikTok is location-based, meaning my videos were going out to a Brazilian audience. I decided to give Portuguese-language recipes a shot, showing how I use avocado as the savory filling for a tapioca, a Brazilian crepe. I explained that Americans tend to eat avocado with salt, not sugar, as it’s often served here. The views rolled in, reaching nearly 700,000. I uploaded a video of my typical breakfast – literally just a banana smoothie: 1.4 million views. Tomato soup. Oats. More smoothies.

    Crispy roasted potatoes with creamy chimichurri sauce. PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST
    Use the bottom of a water glass to flatten the potatoes so you don’t touch the hot potatoes with your hands

    All those recipes went viral.

    Most commenters were kind, but some chuckled over how I struggle to pronounce “peanuts” in Portuguese. Others were surprised to see a gringa eating something other than burgers and fries. Before long, my “for you” page was filled with videos of Brazilians in the United States showing some of the foods consumed there, drawing quips over the boxed mac ‘n’ cheeses, the frozen Trader Joe’s dinners and – overwhelmingly – the lack of rice and beans.

    No wonder so many people were surprised that I was cooking. Those videos weren’t showing the full picture.

    I absolutely refused to make french fries. Instead, to show how I cook potatoes, I shared a video of me preparing crispy smashed potatoes. I boiled baby potatoes, pressed them and roasted them with olive oil, salt and black pepper until they were crisp and golden. I finished them with a sprinkle of garlic powder and served them with a homemade sauce – not ketchup.

    Within hours of publishing the recipe, the video had reached tens of thousands of views, then topped off at 1.6 million. Months later, I’m still getting tagged as people reshare the video on TikTok and Instagram – more so than any other recipe I’ve shared.

    I rarely see comments anymore about how odd it is to see a gringa eating something other than fries and processed foods. My next goal: figuring out exactly how to say “peanuts”.

    CRISPY ROASTED POTATOES WITH CREAMY CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    These twice-cooked potatoes can be served as a side dish on their own, but their crispy edges are just begging for a dip. This chimichurri-inspired sauce is perfect for those who love the traditional recipe’s flavours, but want to avoid the copious amounts of oil found in most renditions. If you can find fresh oregano, try using that instead of the more readily available dried version for a brighter result. To round out the meal, pair the potatoes and sauce with an omelette or grilled fish or chicken, and a simple salad of mixed greens.

    Make Ahead: The cashews need to be soaked for at least two hours and up to overnight before you can make the sauce.

    Storage Notes: The potatoes are best eaten immediately. Refrigerate the sauce for up to three days.

    INGREDIENTS

    For the potatoes
    – Half teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more to taste
    – One pound baby potatoes, scrubbed
    – Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    – Half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
    – One teaspoon garlic powder

    For the sauce
    – Quarter cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in hot water for two hours and up to overnight, rinsed and drained
    – Quarter cup filtered room-temperature water
    – One-and-a-half tablespoons red vinegar
    – One tablespoon olive oil
    – One large or two small cloves garlic
    – Quarter teaspoon fine salt, or more to taste
    – Three-inch piece scallion, white and light green parts only
    – One cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
    – One teaspoon dried oregano
    – Half teaspoon finely chopped red or green chilli pepper, such as jalapeño, Fresno or aji rojo (ribs and seeds removed for less heat), or more to taste

    DIRECTIONS

    Make the potatoes
    Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

    Bring a medium saucepan with water to a boil over high heat. Season with salt to taste and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and thoroughly drain the potatoes, to remove as much water as possible.

    Arrange the potatoes on the prepared sheet and, using the bottom of a water glass so you don’t touch the hot potatoes with your hands, flatten the potatoes. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil and season with quarter teaspoon of the salt and quarter teaspoon of the black pepper.

    Flip and season the other side with the remaining olive oil, salt and black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, flip and then continue roasting for an additional five to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and golden.

    Make the sauce
    While the potatoes roast, in a blender, combine the cashews, water, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, scallion and half cup of the parsley. Blend until creamy, about 30 seconds. Finely mince the remaining parsley and stir into the sauce along with the oregano and chile. Taste, and season with more salt and/or chile if needed; you should have a generous half cup of sauce. Transfer the sauce to a small jar or covered bottle and refrigerate until needed.

    Remove the potatoes from the oven and sprinkle with the garlic powder. Serve with the sauce on the side, for dipping.

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