This recipe is different from the far more common purée de pommes de terre in that the potatoes are mashed roughly with a fork, rather than being thoroughly puréed. Call it mashed potatoes if you prefer. The smashed (écrasé) version started appearing on Paris bistro menus fairly recently and makes for a pleasantly rustic variation.
The recipe can be as rich or light as you prefer. For best results, choose a variety of potatoes that will mash up well, for example russets in the States, Maris Piper in the UK or Bintje potatoes in France. If you like, add a little chopped parsley for flecks of green.
1 pound (500 g) potatoes
2 tsp. sea salt or table salt
1/4 cup (5 cl) milk
2 tbsp. (30 g) butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Peel the potatoes and chop in quarters. Place in a pot of cold water. Add the salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are completely tender, about 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes through a colander. Return them to the empty pot. Mash roughly with a fork. Add the milk and mash again. Stir in one tablespoon butter, reserving the rest. Grind in some black pepper. Taste, and add more salt as necessary.
If using the parsley, chop or snip finely and stir in.
Reheat gently over a very low flame. Serve topped with the rest of the butter, on individual plates or in a serving dish. Serves 2-3.
For a richer version, add 1-2 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream. For a lighter version, use less butter.