A Visit to Stockholm
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, stands as an unofficial center of the Scandinavian region due to it’s size and population density. A series of fourteen islands connected by a myriad of bridges, the city is a wonderful balance of buildings, parks and public spaces with as much culture and history as it has industry and commerce.
Beyond the outsider’s viewpoint, Stockholm is also another European example of the good life, with leisure valued as much as work. Like their Scandinavian neighbors, citizens pay high taxes for the comforts of healthcare, mandatory time off, and other trappings of life in Northern Europe.
Our story today is about a hotel in Stockholm. The Hasselbacken has stood in the city since the 18th century, evolving from a simple tavern into an elegant restaurant tied to a lavish hotel. Talented chefs fill their menu with quality meats, fresh vegetables, and fine wines, but it was their potatoes that put the Hasselbacken on the map.
It was in 1953, when student chef Leif Elisson took his creativity into potato preparation. He simply cut them halfway through in small slices, making what looked like an accordion or fan. Roasting them in the oven with butter resulted in a crispy skin and creamy interior, an elegant display worthy of fine dining. They were called Hasselbackspotatis, but here in the US we simply call them Hasselback Potatoes.
I’ll admit I love the visual appeal of the Hasselback Potato as much I like the resulting flavor and texture. They’re versatile to either wow guests at a sit-down meal, or just surprise your children at dinnertime. The potatoes are quite easy to make and yet very open to different flavoring ideologies. I’ve even seen them done with sweet potatoes or apples.
So let’s take our own trip to Stockholm via our kitchens:
- 4-6 potatoes, each roughly 3-4" in length
- 1/4 cup of melted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 450°, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash your potatoes and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Holding a potato at the ends with your thumb and index finger, cut a series of slits roughly halfway through the potato, about 1/8" apart.
- Brush them with the butter, and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the potatoes into the oven for 30 minutes, then pull them out.
- Using a butter knife, carefully separate the slices from one another so they're not sticking.
- Brush your potatoes again with butter, then place them back into the oven.
- Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the skin is golden and crispy.
- Allow them to cool for five minutes before serving.
You're welcome to try larger or smaller potatoes, but the recommended size is roughly 3-4" in length.
Be careful when cutting and later separating slices so you do not cut or burn yourself.
I did not mention seasoning because this is really open to your own sense of taste. I'll usually mix some granulated garlic and thyme into the butter and brush that on. You could also use oregano or rosemary as opposed to thyme. Some will recommend grated Parmesan cheese, bacon, or even going slightly sweeter with cinnamon and almonds. One fun thing to try is to slide shaved almonds in between the slits after you pull them out the first time. The recipe above is the pure "bare bones".
Even more than seasoning would be your choice of potato. Yukon Gold potatoes are a favorite for Hasselback Potatoes for their buttery taste, but you could use russet, red, or sweet potatoes. I've even seen recipes for Hasselback Apples. It really shows how this recipe is more technique than anything.
Healthy It Up
Butter is delicious for special occasions, but substitute olive or avocado oil if you wish to lower the fat content.
Usually I'll serve Hasselback Potatoes as a side on its own, seasoned the way I choose. You can also avoid added seasoning and serve them with sides of sour cream, bacon, chives, etc...as you would normal baked potatoes. I'd probably refrain from pouring any gravy on them as it will ruin the unique look of these potatoes.