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Hasselback potato side dish is creamy, crispy

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 5:13 p.m.
Emma Christensen
Hasselback Potatoes

The Hasselback potato is clearly the most impressive spud to ever call itself a side dish. It's also like having all of your potato dreams come true at once: these potatoes have the crispy edges of your favorite french fries, but with middles as creamy as mashed potatoes — plus the added bonus of being, essentially, wholesome baked potatoes in clever disguise.

Want one more reason to make them tonight? How about the fact that despite their frilly fancy-pants appearance, they take no more time and little more effort than your average foil-wrapped baked potato.

We can thank the Swedes — and the chefs at Restaurant Hasselbacken, in particular — for the invention of this particular style of potato. They sometimes go by the name “accordion potatoes” or (my favorite) “pillbug potatoes.” Whatever you call it, the result is the same: a single potato, sliced into thin wedges but left joined at the bottom, baked until the layers fan out into rounds of crispy bliss.

You start with a few potatoes. Any potato will do. I love Yukon Golds for this, but you can also use russets, red potatoes, or even tiny new potatoes. Slice straight down into the potato, but stop just short of cutting all the way through. You can rest the potato on a large serving spoon to use as a guide. Make your slices as thick or as thin as you like — my knife skills tend to average slices that are 18-inch to 14-inch thick.

Next comes the butter. Or the olive oil. Or any other fat or mix of fats that you like. I love a mix of butter and olive oil for the richness and flavor, but I'm dying to try duck fat. You don't need much — just enough to brush the outside before baking and then brush again halfway through baking.

That second application of fat is key. When you first cut the potatoes, the slices are too tight for the butter to get down in the cracks. But about halfway through cooking, the potatoes start to fan out. This gives you some space to coax some butter down into the nooks and crannies, plus the second coating ensures crispy perfection.

Now, I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like those accordion folds are just begging to be stuffed with some shredded cheese and minced herbs. Perhaps some crumbled bacon, too. In fact, I could definitely see any number of favorite baked potato toppings making their way into this dish, can't you?

Make a few Hasselback potatoes for a family dinner or a whole sheet pan of them for a dinner party. My recipe here is for four potatoes, but you can certainly multiply that for a crowd. In my opinion, any dinner — big or small, casual or fancy — can only be improved with the addition of Hasselback potatoes.

Emma Christensen is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a blog for people who love food and home cooking.

Hasselback Potatoes

4 large potatoes, Yukon Gold, russet or Red Bliss

4 tablespoons melted butter, olive oil, duck fat, bacon fat, coconut oil, or a mix

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Optional extras: minced fresh herbs, spices, grated cheese, bread crumbs, panko crumbs

Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the lower-middle position.

Scrub the potatoes clean and pat them dry. Alternatively, you can peel the skins.

Cut slits in the potatoes; stop slicing just before you cut through so that the slices stay connected at the bottom of the potato. Space the slices 18-inch to 14-inch apart. You can rest the potato in a large serving spoon and use that as a guide for when to stop slicing — slice straight down and when your knife hits the edge of the spoon, stop slicing.

Arrange the potatoes in a baking dish. Brush the potatoes all over with butter or other fat, including the bottoms.

Sprinkle the potatoes generously with salt and pepper.

Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes. At this point, the layers will start separating. Remove the pan from the oven and brush the potatoes again with the remaining fat — you can nudge the layers apart if they're still sticking together. Make sure some of the fat drips down into the space between the slices.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are crispy on the edges and easily pierced in the middles with a paring knife. If you're adding any extras, stuff those into the slits and sprinkle over the top 5 to 10 minutes before the end of cooking. (Total baking time is 60 to 70 minutes for average potatoes; if your potatoes are on the small side or are larger, adjust cooking time accordingly.)

These potatoes are best straight from the oven while the edges are at their crispiest.

Makes 4 servings.

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