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Appetites: What makes good comfort food?

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Roasted smashed red river potatoes with sage and bacon
Roasted smashed red river potatoes with sage and bacon.
Courtesy of David Paul Schmit

With the cold weather upon us, now is the time of year Minnesotans turn to comfort food to help fight off the winter chill.

  Teresa Marrone, author of "Dishing Up Minnesota: 150 Recipes from the Land of 10,000 Lakes" says the thing that makes a great comfort food is one that is "high calorie, high carbs and just feels good going down."

  "Of course the winter holidays are great time to spend with family and friends. We're thinking about cooking bigger meals and heartier meals," Marrone told Steven John recently. "We just want to hang around the stove because it's warm."  

Marrone says her favorite comfort food is potatoes, including this recipe for roasted red potatoes:

 

Roasted Smashed Red River Potatoes with Sage and Bacon

3-4 servings   1 1/2 to 2 pounds small skin-on red potatoes, 1-1/2 to 2 inches across
Coarse kosher salt
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
12 fresh sage leaves, cut in half crosswise
3 thick-cut bacon strips, cut into 1-inch lengths
Freshly ground black pepper

  Place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover; season generously with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are just tender when poked with a paring knife — 14 to 17 minutes. Drain and let cool for about 10 minutes. While the potatoes are cooling, position a rack at the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

  Pour the oil onto a heavyweight rimmed baking sheet, distributing evenly with a pastry brush; add additional oil if needed to provide a thick coating of oil. Lay the sage leaf halves singly on the sheet, and cover each with a piece of bacon; place the remaining bacon on the baking sheet, keeping some space between them. Place a potato on a work surface and press with a potato masher to flatten the potato to about 3/4 inch thickness; the potato should break apart into large pieces. Transfer the potato pieces to the baking sheet, breaking them apart as necessary so no piece is larger than about 1 inch. Repeat with remaining potatoes, spreading them evenly on the baking sheet. Drizzle a little oil over the potatoes. Sprinkle lightly with the pepper and salt to taste.  

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven. Turn the potatoes, together with the bacon and sage, with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp — about 10 minutes longer.