Papas Pelayo or Crushed Potatoes

Crushed potatoes are nothing new to me. These are pretty similar to the ones I make based off a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, she calls them crash hot potatoes. They are amazing. And so are papas pelayo. It involves some of my favorite foods: potatoes, onion, and cilantro. It’s truth time. This is supposed to be made with parsley, but to be honest, I hate the stuff. I also forgot to buy it at the store…. So cilantro it is! Now I know there are some poor unfortunate souls out there that have a genetic disposition to think cilantro taste like soap. A close friend of mine is unfortunate enough to have such a disdain, so I love eating pho with her so I don’t have to share the extra cilantro. This is not the case for my future mother-in-law, though. She once told me she could eat the leaves right off the stem, which I 100% agree with. Cilantro is not the only food weakness we share, we’re both weak to bread, especially ones with crispy, crunchy crust and a delicate, warm inside. Then there are chips. She always has several bags in her home, so visiting Houston makes my heart and tastebuds happy, but my waistline is definitely not as pleased.

This is my first official Cuban dish, and I don’t think I could have found an easier one to make. It’s slightly time consuming, but easy as pie. Actually, making pies is pretty hard. It’s much easier than that! Now the traditional way to make this is actually to fry the potatoes in Spanish oil in a skillet, or to brush them generously with oil and broil them. But our goal is to make it as healthy as possible. So there are two ways to replace the heavy handed oil. You can either use an olive oil spray to lightly coat the potatoes in the oven, or veggie broth used in the same way. This will decrease the fat, calories, and risk of heart disease!

The first step is to simply wash the potatoes and remove any growth in the eyes. Take a pot and fill it with enough water to cover the potatoes, but don’t put them in yet. Get the water to boil, add a bit of salt, and then your potatoes.


While you boil the potatoes, about 15 to 20 minutes until very fork tender, it is time to prep your topping. Take half an onion, and chop it very finely. It is important to do the cuts by hand, to keep the onion crunchy. Take your cilantro and chop it finely as well, six tablespoons worth.


Now, if you’re from Texas like me, you know a good taco, or you should. Living in Virginia means finding true, classic Mexican tacos is next to impossible. All you need is this cilantro/onion mix, some lime juice, your meat (or “meat”) of choice, and a good tortilla. Add some green salsa or Tabasco, and you’re in heaven.

Man, I could really go for a taco.


Set this taco-wannabe mix aside, and check on your potatoes. Once they are ready, Drain them and let them cool down a bit so they are easier to handle. Start your oven by setting it to broil on high. Take either some paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth, place your potato and fold the towel over it. Gently, with the palm of your hand, press down on the potato until it is as flat as you can get it without it breaking apart. Repeat until they are all smashed, and place them on a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. I show you the technique in the video below, but I beg you, PLEASE do not look at my hideous nails. I was organizing my bathroom and found some glitter nail polish. It does not look very cute. You can however stare at the beautiful ring my fiancé gave to me. It is quite the looker!


Now, take either some olive oil spray or vegetable broth and lightly coat the potatoes on both sides. Crack fresh black pepper and as much salt as you like on both sides, but don’t go too crazy with the salt!


Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes each side, or until the potatoes start to go golden.

Take them out of the oven, place on a plate, top with the onion/cilantro mix, and try not to eat them too fast!



The Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of small red potatoes
  • Olive oil spray or 2 Tbsp of vegetable broth
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 6 Tbsp of chopped parsley or cilantro

The Method:

  1. Clean your potatoes, but do not peel the skin.  Take a medium sized pot and fill it with enough water to cover your potatoes, but do not add them yet. Bring water to a boil, add some salt, and then add your potatoes. Cover and let boil for 10-15 minutes until very fork tender.
  2. While the potatoes cook, chop the onion and cilantro or parsley finely and mix together. It’s important to do this by hand to keep the onions crunchy texture. Set aside.
  3. When the potatoes are done, drain the water and let them cool a bit since we are going to be handling them. Once cool, take a paper towel or a clean kitchen cloth, place a potato in the middle, and cover. Gently press down on the potato with your palm until it smushes. Try to get it as flat as possible without it breaking apart. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  4. Preheat your oven’s broiler to high. Either spray your potatoes with oil or brush them with vegetable broth. Crack some fresh black pepper on both sides of the potato and sprinkle some salt on both sides. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 5 to six minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  5. Plate and top the potatoes with the the onion/cilantro mix and serve hot!

Serves two (or one as a main dish).



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