The Chopstick Hack That Makes Hasselback Potatoes Ridiculously Easy

Hasselback potatoes are not only visually impressive, with their scalloped appearance and golden-brown edges, but they also take on the flavors of whichever ingredients you tuck between the thin slices of potato flesh. Invented in Stockholm, Sweden at the Hasselback restaurant, this dish involves slicing whole potatoes in an accordion-like manner, increasing the surface area of the interior for perfectly tender flesh that's flavored throughout. You can stick pats of butter, minced garlic, herbs, cheese, and more into this delicious side dish.

The only tricky part of Hasselback potatoes is cutting the spuds. They must be sliced thinly, so the potato fans out as it roasts, but not all the way through, so the shape of the whole potato remains intact. A slip of your knife can cut the potato too deep and ruin the presentation. If this sounds daunting, use a clever chopstick hack to ensure that you don't cut all the way through.

Simple place a chopstick on either side of the potato, lengthwise. Use disposable wooden chopsticks, so you don't actually cut into a good reusable pair. Alternatively, you can use wooden spoon handles. Start thinly slicing the potato, and the chopsticks with stop your knife at the bottom, keeping about ¼ inch of the potato's base intact. With this trick, your Hasselback potatoes will be a showstopper when they come out of the oven.

Tips for preparing Hasselback potatoes

Before you master the Hasselback technique, it's important to choose the best spud for the job. While you can Hasselback any potato, including sweet potatoes and yams, the traditional choice is a creamy and thin-skinned white potato such as Yukon Golds. A Yukon Gold's high sugar content browns well when roasted, and its low starch content means the inside will be tender and moist.

If fluffier russet potatoes are all you have around, soak the cut potatoes in acidulated water (tap water mixed with a bit of white vinegar or lemon juice) for a few hours. This will remove some of their starches, allowing them to brown better. The acid also prevents oxidation, which means you can prep the dish ahead of time without discoloration forming on the potato flesh. Before baking, however, dry the potatoes thoroughly so any seasonings you use will adhere properly, and the skin won't turn soggy. 

To ensure that the inside of the potato turns tender, roast Hasselback potatoes in two stages. Cover the porcupine-looking tubers with aluminum foil for the first half of the cooking time in order to steam-cook the inside. Then, to create a crispy, golden-brown skin, remove the foil and allow the oven's dry heat to caramelize the spuds. Once you have the cutting and roasting technique down, you can flavor Hasselback potatoes with different fats and seasonings like butter, herbs, and spices. 

More Hasselback possibilities

When seasoning a Hasselback potato, use a liquid fat that you can easily brush between the slices of potato, as well as on top. You could use olive oil, melted butter, duck fat, or even bacon grease. Mix the fat with seasonings before spooning or brushing it onto the potato. Salt and black pepper are a must, but for additional umami, mix Worcestershire sauce or anchovy paste with the fat before applying it to the potatoes. You also can't go wrong with minced garlic.

If you want to use hearty, woodsy herbs like rosemary, add them before baking, but save tender herbs like parsley to sprinkle on after cooking. While Hasselback potatoes are delicious straight from the oven, they can also be sprinkled with cheese and returned to the broiler for a melty finish. Or, fill the spaces between each slice with pesto, a dollop of sour cream, or a savory cream sauce before serving.

Using the same chopstick cutting technique, you can easily Hasselback any oblong vegetable. Try Hasselback butternut squash to turn it into a perfect autumnal side dish. Maple syrup, sage, bacon, and toasted pecans all work well with the squash. In the warmer months, try Hasselback zucchini. Before roasting, brush the green veggie with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, black pepper, and grated parmesan cheese. And during tomato season, Hasselback caprese salad is an impressive appetizer for entertaining guests.