Smoked Pickled Potatoes with Anchovy Aioli

Smoked Pickled Potatoes with Anchovy Aioli Recipe

Let’s cut to the chase, people: These smoked pickled potatoes are sick crazy love. They’re the kind of food that you taste just once and can’t get out of your mind. The kind of side dish that makes you hoard some in the kitchen before guests arrive so that every time you “forget” something and have to go back in, they’re patiently waiting for you. The kind of thing that, for just a brief moment, makes you seriously consider eating off guests’ plates when you’re cleaning up.

Yes, these crunchy globettes of smoky tartness are that kind of food.

Why, you ask? They’re just spuds, potatoes, batatas, earth apples, right? Not quite, my friend. These suckers go through the gauntlet of cooking techniques that render them impossibly addictive. Yes, as the title says, they’re pickled. And smoked. But best of all they’re then smashed and…wait for it…wait for it…deep-fried. Yes, deep-fried. All those nooks and crannies get crusty. And the skins, which slip off a bit, become shatteringly crisp and shellacked. So as you eat these you first get the crunch, then the earthy smokiness, and just as you’re reaching for another one, a vinegary tickle in the back of your throat. And, of course, the aioli (in which you do not taste the anchovies—really) is the gilding on the lily. Or in this case, on the potatoes.

I can’t take credit for the idea. I first had smoked pickled potatoes when I took my assistant, Annie, to dinner at Community Table in Washington, Connecticut, as a thank you (and as a getaway from playing mommy and wife for a few hours). Community Table is a modern but warm Scandinavian-inflected restaurant on Route 202, where the old Le Bon Coin, the town’s only French restaurant, used to be. In the 17 years that The One and I have been eating all over western Connecticut and hoping for a great meal (and being mightily, mightily disappointed), we were elated when we found CT—what we locals call Community Table. (Get it? CT, Connecticut, Community Table? Clever.)

After our first meal at the restaurant, cooked by head chef Joel Viehland, we rushed back to see if it was a fluke. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Ever since, Joel has bested himself.

But it was these smoked pickled potatoes that prompted me for the first time to ask Joel how to make one of his dishes; I simply had to cook them at home.

I’m going to stop here because all I’m doing is getting in the way of you and your future illicit affair with these potatoes. For this Fourth of July, go and buy potatoes, haul out the smoker (or fashion a jury-rigged one as mentioned in the instructions and in the Testers Choice review), and see for yourself if I am not indeed a soothsayer.

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Smoked Pickled Potatoes

Once you’ve made these exquisite smoked pickled potatoes, you’ll find all kinds of ways to serve them. So far—and by “so far,” I really mean the past week or so, as they’re that new to me—I’ve served them alongside Swedish meatballs, salmon, and steak. And they’re going in my rotation as a superior substitute for french fries, potato salad, and chips. The great thing is you can double the recipe and keep the unfried potatoes in the fridge, and then just pop them in the oil when you’re ready for them. If refrigerating is your plan, just make sure to smoke the potatoes a little longer—up to 1 1/2 hours or so more—as insurance against the smoke flavor mellowing out with time. A spritz or two of vinegar over the fried potatoes just before serving wouldn’t hurt, either.–David Leite

LC This Is Not A Complicated Recipe! Note

Before you roll your eyes and think, “There goes David again,” let us assure you that this smoked pickled potatoes recipe is wicked easy. How easy? 1. You boil potatoes. (You’ve done that a million times.) 2. You pickle potatoes. (This is tantamount to doing nothing. You dump some vinegar over the potatoes and let them sit there and soak overnight.) 3. You cold-smoke potatoes. (All that involves is smelling like a fireman for a day—which, depending upon your predilections, ain’t half bad.) 4. You fry potatoes. (You have made french fries before, right?) But the magic of this recipe is in the sum of its parts. C’mon, have we steered you wrong yet?

Special Equipment: Wood sawdust, chips, chunks, or Bradley bisquettes

Smoked Pickled Potatoes with Anchovy Aioli Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 11 H
  • Not enough (okay, serves 6 to 8)

Ingredients

  • For the anchovy aioli
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • For the smoked pickled potatoes
  • 2 pounds small red new potatoes, 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, scrubbed
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) malt vinegar
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Make the anchovy aioli
  • 1. Sprinkle the garlic with a bit of salt and, using the flat side of your knife’s blade, rub the salt back and forth into the garlic to make a paste.
  • 2. Scrape the garlic and anchovies into a medium bowl and add the lemon juice and egg yolks. Give the mixture a good whisking until everything is well combined.
  • 3. Slowly drizzle a few drops oil into the bowl while whisking vigorously. (Think Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.) Continue this drop-by-drop drizzling and whisking pas de deux until the mixture is thick and homogenous. You can now add the rest of the oil in a very thin thread, all the while whisking energetically until the aioli is lusciously smooth and light yellow. Season with salt. (The aioli can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
  • Pickle, smoke, and fry the potatoes
  • 4. Plonk the potatoes into a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add the salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook gently until tender, 10 to 12 minutes or longer if your potatoes are larger.
  • 5. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. When the potatoes are done, drain them and then plop them into the ice water. Let them chill until cooled completely.
  • 6. Drain the potatoes again and prick each potato with a toothpick or thin metal skewer numerous times—a couple dozen pricks per potato doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Pour the vinegar into a medium nonreactive bowl and slip in the potatoes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the potatoes hang out on the counter in their pickling bath overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  • 7. Following manufacturer’s instructions, set up your smoker, smoker box, charcoal grill, or gas grill for cold smoking using sawdust, chips, chunks, or Bradley bisquettes. Hell, you can even get a cast-iron skillet screaming hot, place it on your turned-off grill, toss in some wood chips, and close the cover. Voilà, instant cold smoker.
  • 8. Smoke the potatoes, making sure to keep the temperature under 100°F (38°C), for 1 hour. Since the potatoes are already cooked, you’re just trying to give them that great smoke flavor. Keep an eye on the heat, because if it goes higher, you’ll dry out the potatoes. Remove the spuds from the smoker and blot any moisture from their skins. You can refrigerate the potatoes for several hours or you can immediately move on to the best part of this recipe, which is the frying.
  • 9. Pour enough peanut oil into a heavy pot so that it reaches a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F (190°C) using a deep-fry or candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. While the oil is heating, place the potatoes on a flat work surface and smash them with the palm of your hand just until they crack—you don’t want to completely flatten the potatoes, but you do want to use enough pressure to burst the skins and create nooks and crevices.
  • 10. Fry the potatoes in batches, making sure the heat never dips below 350°F (180°C), until the potatoes are golden brown and any loose skins that have pulled away from the potato are marvelously burnished and translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to paper towels to drain and season with sea salt and pepper. Serve the spuds pronto alongside plenty of the aioli.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Jul 02, 2014

When you see this recipe, you may think, like me, that there's a lot going on here. You may even wonder, "Can this REALLY work?" Let me just say...ABSOLUTELY! I used mini red potatoes called Enchanted Rose. I boiled them until they were JUST fork-tender, which took about 25 minutes. Then I put them in an ice bath. After about 8 minutes, I drained the potatoes, and I punctured each one deeply with a toothpick between 20 and 25 times. I put the potatoes in a medium bowl and poured over about 30 ounces malt vinegar—for me it was enough to cover them by an inch--and refrigerated them overnight.

The next morning, I created a cold smoking chamber from a cardboard box and a wire cooling rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet. I simply connected it to my bullet smoker with tubing. Too much heat while smoking will dry out the potatoes, so you really need the cold smoke with as little heat as possible. I pulled the pickled potatoes directly from the refrigerator and put them in the smoking chamber, which was already filled with smoke. I smoked them with a mixture of peach and applewood for exactly 1 hour. The potatoes took the smoke VERY well. I refrigerated them for nearly 5 hours, and when I removed them, the smoke taste was still very strong.

Next, you want to smash each potato between your palms. Don't be afraid to apply a little pressure so as to expose a bit of the potato beneath the skin. I fried the potatoes in 3 batches—don't overload your oil because you want the potatoes to crisp up quickly and nicely. Each batch took a little more than 7 minutes at 375ºF, which means I completed the frying in just over 20 minutes.

I made the simple aioli sauce with a fruity extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of white pepper, and, finally, the anchovy fillets smashed to a fine paste with the blade of my knife.

At first glance, this recipe may seem daunting, but trust me, it's really VERY simple. By boiling and pickling the potatoes the evening before, smoking the next day and then frying the potatoes and taking 5 minutes to prepare the aioli, you will end up with a WONDERFUL, FLAVORFUL dish that has a little bit of everything. I was taken by the fact that I could taste the smoke, the malt vinegar, the aioli sauce, AND the fried potato.

Smoked Pickled Potatoes Recipe

Comments
Comments
  1. Christina says:

    These look ridiculously good. I’m kind of afraid to make them because I have a feeling they might be one of those things that I would then crave all the time. Ah well. Too interesting NOT to try!

  2. Martha in KS says:

    Be still my heart! The only problem with smoking potatoes is keeping them lit.

  3. Greg Martin says:

    I’m with Christine…I’m afraid I may become addicted or at the very least “want a cigarette after indulging….” Tee hee.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Greg, I forgot to add the last two ingredients and instructions:

      1 cigarette, you choice
      1 cigarette lighter

      1. Light the cigarette with the lighter, lean back, and inhale deeply. Plan a vacation together.

  4. deanna says:

    This is a recipe that would benefit from a short, smart video clip. I’m surprised you don’t incorporate them into your blog.

  5. Margie MacKenzie says:

    I can’t wait to have some of these puppies hanging out on my kitchen counter, getting ready for the smoker. They will help me get over my smoker-fear. Thank you, David. Happy 4th!!

  6. Sharon Ghamari says:

    David
    I would LOVE to make these but alas I have no smoking equipment at all! Just an iron skillet and a regular stove. Do you know of a way to rig up a smoker? I think I’ve seen something on the web with aluminum foil pans but I’m not sure how to use them. Any ideas?

    Sharon

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Sharon, the easiest way to simulate a cold smoker is to get a cast iron skillet screaming hot on the stovetop. Out of doors place the skillet on a cooling rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet set on a heat-resistant surface (a metal table, driveway, stones, etc.) Scatter the potatoes on a rack. Toss some wood chips in the skillet and cover the whole shebang with a cardboard box.

      You’ll have to watch it carefully so that the skillet doesn’t touch the box. Keep heating the skillet and adding chips as needed.

  7. Ann says:

    Oh Potato excess at its finest! Got the stovetop smoker gotta try this recipe!

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      And when you do, let me know what you think!

      • Ann says:

        I will! By the by, the late great chef Barbara Tropp details how you can jerry rig a stove top smoker with woks and large pots which most people already have. I remember tea smoking chicken breast years ago with her methods lining a wok with alum. foil. It’s pretty easy to do and tasty. Her book The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking has pages of diagrams and instructions on smoking, and to a lesser degree some instruction in her China Moon Cookbook. Her books were printed 20-30 years, but great sources of information. Also Sunset Magazine did an in depth article on smoking food (sometime in the 70’s-80’s) including how to smoke cheese. I don’t know if there’s an archive to access for Sunset but that magazine in its heyday (60s-to mid 80’s) was a fountain of food knowledge. ok ok I’ll shut up.

  8. Susan says:

    Could the boiled-smoked-pickled potatoes be doused with oil and roasted at a high temperature? Or would too much smoke and pickle flavor evaporate in the process??

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Susan, I honestly don’t know. I’d say give it a go and see what happens–but only with some of it. That way if it’s a no-go, you can fry the rest.

  9. ruthie says:

    These would make an outstanding tapa or mezze kind of thing, wouldn’t they? I’m going to give them a try, sans smoke, since I’m not much of a smoke lover. Pickled and crispy fried? Those I do love, though. Thanks for snagging the recipe for us.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      ruthie, I’m not keen on smoke, either. And I live in a Manhattan apartment. I love your suggestion and you can bet I’ll be trying these with your modifications. Many thanks!

      • susan finesman says:

        Hello Renee! Hope you are well. Did you ever try this, skipping the whole smoke nonsense? Not certain but I might be missing a chromosome, I don’t get the bother of the smoke! Would they be too vinegar-y without the smoking?

        Best regards to you at Culinaria,

        Susan

        • David Leite David Leite says:

          susan, having made these a million times, I do think you would be missing something without the smoke. If you want to try it smokeless, pickle the potatoes for 4 to 6 hours, not overnight. That way they won’t be too tart.

  10. Sabrina says:

    I love that recipe! My husband thinks it’s strange that I like potatoes and pickles. I think it’s a delicious combo.

  11. These look insane! I’m going to look for a smoker today :)

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