THE BEST Italian Beef and Crunchy Smashed Potatoes

So I have recently felt compelled to share this story with all of the internet to read when a friend of mine had a very similar encounter as myself about a month ago. It got me wondering…how many of us have gotten ourselves in a similar utterly delightful predicament?

I was treated to a much needed and overdue massage by my mom (she’s a gem isn’t she?) when I came home to visit last. Words cannot describe my excitement for this! I used to treat myself to massages regularly when I was doing hair and my insurance covered them. I immediately stopped when I switched insurances and received a nice fat $150 bill in the mail for a single massage, GAG. So needless to say, I was in desperate need.

I’d been looking forward to my appointment for what seemed like years (realistically I think I found out about three days prior), and now all that stood between me and 60 minutes on that dreamy massage table was a single morning crossfit session.

Rarely do I feel this way, but I had just KILLED my WOD (For my non-crossfit followers “Workout Of the Day”),PR’d my front squat weight and all. I hoped in my jeep, the new T-SWIFT single had just came on, it was warm enough in the beginning of November to have my sunroof open, and I was headed to my long awaited massage appointment. I was on cloud 9 to say the least.

HIT THE BRAKES (Insert haunting skreetch sound effect here). I was wearing leggings. I threw myself together and ran out the door so fast I didn’t even have a chance to think about this small, but so very important minor detail. I WAS WEARING LEGGINGS…that is, JUST LEGGINGS. YEP, no undies. Commando. free bird. However you want to put it, it was a pretty bad morning to forget that step while getting dressed.

My appointment begins in six minutes. I have zero options at this point. I’m going in. My dreamy, long awaited, oh so coveted, massage is about to turn into 60 minutes of mortifying, horrendous, down right torture. What do I do? Should I say something? Do I just lay there and say nothing at all? Definitely not. That sends the weirdo/pervy vibe for sure. Do I just leave my pants on? Yes? No. No, you CANNOT leave your pants on for a massage, that’s equally as weird as being completely naked, I think anyways.

Okay, so I’ve come up with a final plan. I’m just going to tell her as soon as she walks in, everything will be fine. I’ll just explain everything and it will be just fine. So that’s what I did. And guess what her response was? “Oh my gosh, no big deal, don’t even worry about it”!

DON’T EVEN WORRY ABOUT IT?! SERIOUSLY??! I went through all of that. I ALMOST DIED, I was so mortified, I thought I was the biggest, grossest weirdo on the planet, and she says “No big deal”. PHEW. What an angel. However, I am still sincerely sorry for forgetting my undies for my massage appointment.

ANYWAYS…I have for you THE BEST, and I mean, THE BEST Italian Beef recipe for you today, and the Crispy Smashed Potatoes are so simple but equally delicious. This is something that can be enjoyed by everyone. In fact, my mom used to make a version of this when I was growing up, that everyone raved about. However she served it on sub buns with provolone cheese. So, even though I have created a healthier, paleo version, it’s obviously a great option to make for a large crowd as well! If you’d prefer a low-carb option to serve this with and want to skip the potatoes (to keep it strict paleo), try it on a bed on spaghetti squash or cauliflower rice. ENOJOY (Well, that is if you even feel like eating after reading 10 paragraphs about me and my undies)! Oh and did I mention how stinkin’ EASY this is to make?!

Italian Beef


2-3lbs chuck roast

32 oz. beef stock

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

2TBS. fennel seeds

2TBS. oregano leaves


  1. Heat Oven to 350
  2. Season Chuck Roast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, fennel seeds, and oregano.
  3. Once oven has finished preheating, pour in the beef stock so roast is covered (if it doesn’t cover completely thats okay). You may not need the entire amount depending on the size of the your cooking dish.
  4. Place in oven and cook for 3 hours, checking periodically that the meat doesn’t dry out. Add more stock as needed.
  5. For the last hour or so turn oven up to 450. Cooking time will vary depending on the exact size of the roast but it usually takes around 4 hours total.
  6. You will know the roast is finished when it can be pulled apart and shreds effortlessly with two forks (you want it to be pretty much falling apart). Shred entire roast so it is in bite sized pieces.


If you do not like the texture of the fennel seeds in the beef you can make a little “sack” to put the seeds in out of cheese cloth and set it in the broth to cook. That way you still get the flavor of the fennel seeds just without the texture. I personally love the seeds in the roast, however, Gavin has an issue with the texture, so I found a way to make us both happy 🙂

Crunchy Smashed Potatoes


Desired amount of small, Yukon Gold Potatoes (I usually make 1-2 per person)

1 TBS avocado or olive oil

About 1-2 TBS butter (depending on how many potatoes you choose to cook)

salt, pepper, garlic salt to taste

optional – fresh rosemary and thyme for garnish


  1. Place potatoes in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. The water should be covering the potatoes.
  2. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and a knife can be easily stuck through them.
  3. Preheat oven to 425
  4. Turn off stove and remove potatoes from water.
  5. Once potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut in half
  6. Drizzle oil on metal cookie sheet (the metal helps the potatoes to crisp up nicely) and place potatoes, cut side down on sheet, move them around a little so the bottoms of the potatoes get some of the oil on them.
  7. Using a fork, potato masher, or a flat spatula, press down on the tops of the potatoes, one at a time, so that they become “smashed” so they are approximately 1-1.5 inches thick (If your potatoes are not mashing, you did not boiling them long enough).
  8. Put a small pat of butter on top of each potato half, about a half teaspoon.
  9. Season to taste
  10. Place cookie sheet in the oven and let cook for about 30 minutes. The time varies but you will know they are finished when the tops of the potatoes start to crisp up and turn golden brown.


If your potatoes are struggling to crisp up, turn on the broiler for a few minutes at the end.


  1. Aly Christine | 10th Jan 18

    lol! Your intro story was so funny and so well written! I don’t go for massages often but have always wondered the etiquette. I wonder what other people do now!!

    • Holly | 10th Jan 18

      haha thank you…I was mortified but after it was over I found it quite hilarious, especially when I heard about a friend who had the same problem a week later lol. A friend who is a massage therapist said people do it all the time, maybe she was just trying to make me feel better though, HA!

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