Bacon Smashed Potatoes

We’re leaving for New York in the morning. (I HOPE – I did the web check-in and while M and W’s boarding passes have seats assigned, mine has an ominous GTE where my seat should be…) I just finished teaching a bacon class, and I realized I haven’t told you about my potato condo yet! I built a potato condo! I grew my own potatoes! In my back yard! I’m an urban potato farmer! For real!

Let me rewind. And calm down a little bit.

W has a new favourite book, called Two Old Potatoes and Me. Which I noticed in Rod & Chad’s truck (Calgary’s urban SPIN farmers) when I went out to photograph them for this story. I recognized it immediately, as one of his previous favourite books was by the same illustrator. So. I bought it at the farmers’ market, and we read about planting seed potatoes – those shriveled-up ones that start to grow eyes, and piling up dirt on top of them. Building a potato condo – a neighbour had built one this spring – enables you to pile the dirt up, giving them more space to grow upwards, which is what they normally do in their little hills of dirt on the ground – without taking up too much space. And so when we put in our garden, I took the galvanized steel garbage pail I tried to turn into a smoker a couple summers ago (with little success) and turned it into a potato condo.

Here’s what you do: put about a foot of dirt in the bottom and bury a few potatoes. Or if you have bigger ones with lots of eyes, do as Carolyn says in the story and cut them into chunks, making sure each piece has an eye protruding from it, before planting it. When the greens poke through the top, load on more dirt and compost. We went away to Tofino and came back to a can full of greens. You won’t smother them by piling on the dirt, although it seems to go against what little I do know about gardening. You water it, and pile on more dirt if more leaves burst through.

And then you wait until the first frost, until the plant dies, and then wait another two weeks. You can, of course, dip your hand in and grab a handful of potatoes anytime you fancy. (How satisfying a feeling is that – running out to the back yard to pluck new potatoes straight from the dirt?)

Once fall settles in (which it hasn’t done yet, but I don’t want to leave for a week and leave them out for a deep freeze) you can tip your container over and dump the contents, and sort through the dirt for potatoes. Potatoes! POTATOES I GREW MYSELF IN MY OWN BACK YARD (damn it’s tough to type and pat myself on the back at the same time).

New York!
New York!


Bacon Smashed Potatoes

Recipe link


November 3, 2010

I thought if this was to be German potato salad-esque, grainy mustard would be in order, so I added a squirt and left out the dill. (Although Brassica makes a dill mustard that would be pretty fab in this, come to think of it.) It was adapted from here.


2 lb. thin-skinned potatoes, cut into chunks if they need it

a few (or several) slices bacon, coarsely chopped

2-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. grainy mustard

1 tsp. sugar

salt and pepper


1Steam potatoes in a steaming basket or in an inch or two of boiling water, covered, until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

2Meanwhile, cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar, mustard, sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper to the hot bacon drippings, scraping up the browned bits.

3Transfer potatoes to a large bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the steaming water.

4 Add vinegar mixture to potatoes and smash with a potato masher to desired texture, adding reserved water if you like to thin it a bit.


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21 comments on “Bacon Smashed Potatoes

  1. Vincci
    November 3, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    So awesome! This will have to go on mine and B.’s long mental list of DIY projects to try. Have fun in NYC and hope everything goes ok with Air Canada!

  2. Laurie in Burnaby
    November 3, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Excellent! I haven’t harvested mine yet, but I will when it gets below 0 at night
    Have a lovely trip

  3. LimeCake
    November 3, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    great job on the potatoes! and have a blast in ny!

  4. Erin321
    November 4, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Oh, Julie….every night I come home from work and read your blog, and sometimes, it’s the very best part of my day! Thanks for all your hard work, and enjoy your trip. You’ve earned it! I can’t wait to build a potato condo next summer.

  5. a-man
    November 4, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Interesting experiment! Seem to be ideal conditions in that pail without rodents. In which month did you seed the potatoes?
    Thank you for a response.

  6. JulieVR
    November 4, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I planted it late – the first weekend of July! I wasn’t fully expecting it to work. But as you can see – it did!

  7. erin
    November 4, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Thanks very much for this! I love planting potatoes, but absolutely hate hilling and harvesting them. I’ll have to try it next year.

  8. Cathy N in Inglewood Calgary
    November 4, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Wow! What a great way to grow potatoes! I wonder if I can do it on a sailboat since next summer we will be in the midst of our big voyage through the S. Pacific. It may have to wait… However, your recipe is a great one and will be served at dinner tonight! Thanks Julie – reading your blog first thing every morning always makes my day a good one :-)
    Have a wonderful trip to NYC…you deserve it! :-)

  9. Snarky Sister
    November 4, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I love your enthusiasm! Have fun in NYC!

  10. Sharon
    November 4, 2010 at 9:03 am

    This would work on a balcony. Wouldn’t it why not love it. I don’t need an acre of potatoes. It’s the satisfaction I’m after. Ok, a few meals would be nice too. What fun. More like this.

  11. Monica I.
    November 4, 2010 at 10:29 am

    We planted late in the raised bed this year too, unfortunately got scab, so we can’t eat the skins. Spuds taste awesome this fresh. Love the container idea – maximize the growing potential in a minimum space.

  12. Evelyn in Canada
    November 4, 2010 at 10:48 am

    The other good thing about a potato condo is that you can build them on a concrete surface. Like the unused big driveway I’ve got with full South-facing sun. Next year that’s my plan. And if a few homeless people eat my potatoes in the alley, they probably need them more than I do. I’m glad it worked for you even with the late planting date.

  13. Rebecca
    November 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Thanks for the potato growing tips! I’m totally going to try this next summer. I long to be a gardener but to be honest, I’m a bit lazy and am rarely home in the summer so the ease of this idea seems right up my alley!

    Have a great time in NYC. My sister and I went a few years ago (best decision I made pre-pregnancy!) and had such an amazing time. NYC is the one of the most fantastic places I’ve ever visited and I’m not even much of a fan of big cities. Enjoy every minute of it!

  14. ryan @macarons
    November 4, 2010 at 11:57 am

    great tips for anyone looking to grow their own potatoes. Down here in south Texas it is common to eat potato and bacon breakfast tacos…Yes obviously there is bacon, potato, and egg, but even more common is only bacon and potato in a tortilla. It is a great treat!


  15. Barb
    November 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Hey, not a bad looking crop of potatoes there! Congratulations! Have a wonderful time in New York! New York!

  16. eroica
    November 4, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Nitrate-free bacon rocks!

  17. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)
    November 4, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I am envious of your trip to NYC. Looking forward to hearing all about it. I have some diced pancetta in the fridge I must use. This would be great.

  18. Anonymous
    November 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    What we need Ryan@macarons is a Texas recipe for nice, soft tacos.

  19. Sujata
    November 5, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Enjot the Big Apple. Thanks for keeping us entertained and inspired in the kitchen and life in general.

  20. Lana in South Mountain (ON)
    November 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

    My sister just got back from NYC and had a completely wonderful time.
    I hope you and M and W have a blast. Can’t wait to hear about it! oxox

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