In Germany, David Hasselhoff of "Knight Rider" fame is treated more like a god than just another actor. However, in Stockholm, Sweden, it is not every restaurant that gets a dish named after it. The Hasselbacken Hotel (opened in 1748) introduced a new potato dish on its menu in the 1940's, The Hasselback Potato. While you could say it is just a baked potato, the way it is prepared, and looks, distinguishes it from just any old baked potato. Slits are cut crosswise along the top, and length, of the potato; careful to leave 1/4 of an inch uncut along the bottom. A bread crumb topping is loaded on top and pushed slightly into the slits; olive oil and butter gives a slightly naughty decadence to the fanned-out potato. This type of potato dish is also called in Ireland "Accordion Potatoes" for its resemblance to the musical instrument. In France, with the addition of Parmesan cheese, it is known as a "Potato Fan".
The recipe I made, and will give instruction for, is the original recipe from the Hasselbacken Hotel. A medium sized, oval shaped, baking potato is best for this unique side dish. The larger sized is best if serving this potato dish as a meal in itself. Small potatoes, such as Fingerlings, do not fare well during the cutting and baking processes. Originally, the topping was simply dried bread crumbs, salt, ground black pepper and butter; olive oil was a cooking medium. Of course, nowadays, the addition of cheeses, herbs, vegetables and/or bacon can give this potato dish a whole new swing. If using cheese, it is best to use a grated texture from a hard rind type of cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan mixed into the dried bread crumbs. A quickly melting cheese such as Cheddar or Swiss could be used, but in the final 15 minutes of the baking process; however, the chance of covering up the "fan" effect is very possible.
For the addition of bacon, slice bacon strips into one-inch pieces, freeze them solid and then insert into the cuts randomly; about 5-6 pieces per potato. As the potatoes bake, the bacon fat will melt to give the potato extra fluffiness and deep bacon flavoring. Chopped fresh herbs and/or petite diced vegetables such as green onion or mushrooms need to be mixed in melted butter, spooned over the potatoes and baked during the final 15 minutes. You want these items to warm up, but not be thoroughly roasted into obscurity. The olive oil that sits in the bottom of the baking dish will give the potato a golden browned, crusty bottom to sit upon...sort of like getting a baked and fried potato at the same time.
Imagine, for the coming holiday meals, instead of plain potatoes, serving up these fancy baked potatoes. Your family and guests will be impressed!
The Hasselback Potato
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 long baking potatoes (about 6 oz. each)
1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. melted butter
Peel each potato; cut a 1/4-inch slice from one long side of the potato. This will allow it to lay flat and not roll during the cutting or baking processes. Place a clean rubber band around the potato, ¼-inch up from the flat bottom, to use as a guide. With a sharp knife, make 1/8-inch slices crosswise along the entire length of the potato being careful not to go past the rubber band. Remove the rubber band and immerse the potatoes in cold water for 5 minutes; slightly move the slices apart, but be careful not to break them. Immersing in water will also help to remove extra starch from the potatoes and keep them from turning brown.
Preheat oven to 450F; coat bottom of small baking dish (large enough to accommodate both potatoes, but leave room between each) with olive oil.
In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, salt, black pepper and one tablespoon of butter. Remove potatoes from water, pat dry and brush with a half tablespoon of butter; press the bread crumb mixture onto each potato; use the dull side of a knife to slightly press a little mixture into some of the potato slits. Place potatoes into the baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil, drizzle a tablespoon of the remaining butter over each potato; bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Makes two servings.
So instead of a plain baked potato, try something a little fancier...a Hasselhoff; oops, sorry; a Hasselback Potato. Enjoy!