These potatoes are creamy with a crispy edge and were a perfect side for my holiday ham dinner. For some time I have been wanting to make “hasselback” potatoes or a fancy way to make baked potatoes. Hasselback potatoes were first created in 1953 by Leif Elisson who was a trainee chef in Stockholm and are a popular way to serve potatoes.
The potatoes are cut through 2/3 way into thin slices and they were first served with butter, breadcrumbs and almonds added in between and on top of the potatoes. The potatoes have changed through the years as different twists/ingredients are added to these special potatoes; like cheese and heavy cream!
I first saw a gratin form of these potatoes while I was co-hosting Fiesta Friday, and Jasmine’s post was one of the recipes: http://therichmondavenue.com/cheesy-hasselback-potatoes/. Then right before Christmas I received an email from NY Times Cooking which included these very cheesy potatoes. I came to find out that the author is Kenji Lopez-Alt, managing culinary director of the food website Serious Eats.
I have used his website for recipes but did not know about Kenji or the book he published “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” back in 2015 (an updated version is in the works). He is no stranger to the scientific community of foodies having worked in the Cook’s Illustrated Test Kitchen and then moved on to a more challenging job at Serious Eats.
I found many of the Test Kitchen recipes were a little too “far out” and hard to understand. Kenji is more down to earth, very entertaining and I learn something new on each page – and yes, there are almost 1,000 pages of information and absolutely fantastic recipes including these potatoes. What better reading material during one of the coldest and snowiest winters.
This gratin is one of the recipes in his cookbook and I won’t go into why these potatoes are so good and how Kenji created the recipe. All I can say is he woke up in the middle of the night with an idea, tried to get his wife to join him and made the first batch of these delicious potatoes – a funny story! You will have to look on the internet or buy this 1,000 page cookbook/reference to get more details. Better yet, make this recipe as you will not be disappointed.
Kenji admits to being a nerd and says he is proud of it. I love his witty and easily accessible writing. He focuses on the science behind many American dishes and that often conventional methods don’t work that well and newer and simpler techniques can achieve far better results. You’ll find sections on “Science of Breakfast”, “Science of Vegetables”, “Science of Roasts”; there’s even a section on sous vide! Lots of color photos is always a must for me in any cookbook!
These potatoes are different from scalloped potatoes as they are placed on their edges in order to get crispy, browned edges. The potatoes remain soft and creamy but with a lovely crispy edge.
There is a lot of prep work slicing the potatoes and some use a mandolin to get thin and even slices. You could even use just a sharp knife. I found this neat gadget for cutting one hasselback potato at a time and no danger of nicking a finger. The gadget is indented with 2 spikes to hold a potato while you slice it. I do have a mandolin but prefer not to use it – sharp instruments and me do not get along even with a protective guide.
Hasselback Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano, Adapted
- 3-4 oz. Gruyere, grated (you can use another Swiss cheese but it won’t be as good as Gruyere)
- 2-3 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
- fresh thyme leaves (to taste) or chives, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (be generous)
- 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes (you won’t need them all), peeled and sliced (even though I like to leave the peel on it was suggested that you get a cleaner crunch from peeled potatoes)
- softened butter to grease your 2 quart casserole dish
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Combine the cheeses in a medium bowl; remove 1/3 of the cheeses and set it aside. Add the cream, garlic and thyme leaves to taste to 2/3 of the cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I used my hasselback potato slicer to cut all the potatoes. After cutting each potato with a chef’s knife I removed each potato and finished cutting the slices through. I next added the slices to the cheese mixture and coated both sides well. Then I followed the same procedure with the rest of the potatoes.
Grease a 2 quart casserole with butter. Pick up a handful of potato slices while organizing them into a neat stack. Lay them in the casserole with their edges aligned vertically. I was able to get three rows in my dish. You want the potatoes packed. Don’t worry about getting the slices lined up perfectly as to size as the potatoes will turn out fine once they have cooked.
Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly oven the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the dish. You will probably have a little left over.
Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cheese and bake for a final 30 minutes or until the potatoes are a deep golden brown and crisp along the edges.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes.
Comment: I like cheese and garlic so I usually add extra with a casserole like this.
Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com