These Portuguese punched potatoes (called batatas a murro in Portuguese), are essentially crisp-skinned, creamy smashed potatoes smothered in caramelized onions and melted cheese. Sharing optional.
This traditional Portuguese smashed potato dish, batatas a murro, is simply roasted potatoes that are crisp-skinned and soul-achingly tender smothered with caramelized onions and melted cheese. Although actually, there’s nothing simple about it. At least not the taste. Typically served as a side, but we won’t judge if you indulge in an entire plateful, preferably accompanied by a glass of wine.–Angie Zoobkoff
Portuguese Punched Potatoes, Onion, and Cheese | Batatas a Murro
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 40 M
- Serves 2 to 4
- 14 ounces potatoes, such as Yukon gold or similar, skin on
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt, ground white pepper, and cracked black pepper
- 1 onion (about 11 oz), thinly sliced
- Sherry vinegar
- 2 ounces queijo da Serra (which is a marvelously stinky melty cheese), Gruyère, or another full-flavored melting cheese, broken into small pieces, or more to taste
- 1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the potatoes, and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.
- 2. Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C).
- 3. Let the potatoes cool for about 10 minutes and then lightly smash them with your fist or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Place them in an ovenproof dish with the garlic and bay leaf, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, and gently turn to ensure they’re thoroughly coated. Season with salt and white pepper and bake until golden brown and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.
- 4. Meanwhile, in a skillet over low heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil and then add the onions and season with salt and white pepper. Cook gently until very soft and translucent, about 20 minutes.* Try squeezing a piece of onion; it should be very soft and taste sweet. Increase the heat and let the onions caramelize and turn golden brown, stirring to stop them from sticking, about 5 minutes more. Remove the cartouche, if using, and set aside. Add a splash of sherry vinegar for a little bit of acidity that cuts through the cheese.
- 5. Take the potatoes out of the oven and scatter the onions and spoon or scatter the cheese on top. Return the dish to the oven and cook until golden brown and bubbling, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve right away, sprinkled with a little cracked black pepper.
*HOW TO SPEED UP COOKING BY USING A CARTOUCHE
- To hasten things along, you can cover the onions with a traditional French technique known as a cartouche (and pronounced “car TOOSH”) during cooking. It essentially traps a little more moisture and heat. Begin by cutting a large square of baking parchment slightly larger than your skillet. Fold it to make a triangle. Hold the triangle with the thin point over the center of the skillet. The end should extend slightly beyond the edge of the skillet. Unfold it, crumple it, and dampen it lightly with water, and then place it on top of the onions and cover with a lid.