In honor of Food Stories publishing my favorite memory of Pepperoni Rolls tonight, I’m putting up a recipe for one of the dishes in the (failure) dinner recounted in the beginning of the tale. Here, have something beautiful: Hasselback Potatoes.
Until a few days ago, the unappetizing situation related in the story was one of the “most successful” attempts at this recipe. And that was back in 2010. Potatoes are cheap and hearty and easy to come by- and so sadly those factors have overlapped with this recipe more than twenty times since then, which, accompanied by a sudden and ill-guided burst of self-confidence has wasted a lot of my time and has only twice led to something resembling edible.
Not only was I insanely successful this time (aka lucky like WOW against all odds), but it wasn’t just a fluke! It’s totally repeatable! I cracked the code! (If you want to be appropriately excited for these potatoes, it may be best to stop reading now before you learn the secret and instead go to work laboriously to procure yourself some failure batches first.)
2 large potatoes
a bottle of olive oil (seriously)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Take out a baking pan and foil it up. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub potatoes good and hard while rinsing them. Dry.
Carefully slice a thin sliver off one of the long-sides of each potato, so it is able to sit in place without wobbling about. On a cutting board, create a number of thin slices in each potato- but here’s Secret #1: each slice should only go about half-way down into the potato.
Reread that above instruction again. ONLY HALF-WAY DOWN SLICES. You might be feeling powerful and awesome, and therefore you might think you could totally go three-quarters of the way down in each potato with your slices. Can you see yourself in this scenario? What if you feel like you could totally do it?? STOP! Pride goeth before the fall and all that.
Why? You will most likely slice through the potato completely at some point, and this will result in chunks of semi-sliced, severed potato hunks and this is simply not half so attractive or impressive looking as the ideal. (If you suspect you might have an ego trip mid-slice, you can add in an extra potato to experiment on, so if all goes badly it can be consumed later at some other point when aesthetic is not so important…As you can see in the above pic, I am definitely a fan of the extra potato, but do what you will.)
See how thin my slices are in the above potatoes? Yours can be as thin or as thick as you want.
A problem I’ve had with many Hasselback recipes I’ve read throughout throughout the last almost-three years now is authors suggesting slice sizes that have me awkwardly messing about with well-used rulers that really probably shouldn’t be touching food. And then messing up the slices anyway, because it’s not like you can draw guiding lines on a potato.
When you’re done slicing, stand your potatoes on the baking tray.
Now here comes the REAL code-cracker! Using just few finger tips at most, carefully/slowly pull apart each of the little slices, and pour in just a tiny sip of olive oil. (This is why I suggest a bottle with a spout- if you don’t have this, you can use a spoon which totally works but you’ll probably end up with a bigger mess and probably an unnecessary pool of oil, as is visible in this recipe’s first photo.)
THIS sips-between-all-slits deal is why this dish is SO delicious. The oil works its way into and around the base of the potato so it’s baked into a moist, soft perfection- and the oil that coats the insides of each slice works to crisp each one to perfection. This pretty much means you’re gifted with what is in fact a gorgeously baked half-potato, topped with a collection of roasted potatoes- and it’s all part of the same amazing culinary creation! You’re welcome, people who can’t easily decide on their potato dish for the day! And also, all people with tastebuds, you are welcome too!
Onwards! Take your minced garlic and carefully push at least a tiny bit into each slit. Rub some over the top of each potato as well. S&P.
Push the pan into the oven and set the timer. Bake for 40 minutes, until the slices are visibly crisped and everything smells like heaven. Yep.
While they’re cooking, you can work on whipping up the rest of your meal. I crisped up these lovelies for a lazy brunch for my (new!) fiance Gary and me, as he read me some award-winning (probably) nonfiction about the Supreme Court. (Okay I’m not selling it well but it’s actually pretty fascinating and therefore a good accompaniment to cooking as it took my mind off obsessively slicing and just let my hands do the work.) I found a red onion in the bottom of his fridge and decided to make it a side.
Note: I always feel like people cook onions with too much oil. Here’s what to do instead: Throw the onion slices in a pan over a high-flame, and add a few cups of water. Let the few cups of water boil. Then let the water boil until it boils down to almost nothing. At that point, you can either drizzle in a sip of olive oil, or use a spatula to push the onions to one side while you throw down some PAM. Either way, just crisp them up a little, turn off the heat and set the pan aside. Then, if you want, you can roast them up a bit too, like I did for this recipe.
When the potatoes’ 40 minutes were up, I turned the oven onto broil, and added the onions to the baking pan- just a couple minutes under the broiler is enough. The onions come out soft, aromatic, with some rings deliciously charred. The broiler adds a nice, final crispy finish to the potatoes too!
Right before serving, I quickly fried two eggs, over-easy and plated everything together- hot, tasty, and attractive! Gary brewed us a pot of good, strong Irish tea to accompany the meal. Brunch perfection.
Try not to drool on your keyboard:
The potatoes alone cost around 20 cents together because I ordered a crate of tangerines to be sent to the apartment and they delivered seven pounds of potatoes instead…But regardless, potatoes are cheap food. An egg is generally about 20 cents and a onion 50 cents. For two Elegant Eaters, this meal will cost less than $5 for sure! Enjoy!