How to slice a potato hasselback-style without losing a finger
Hasselback potatoes are an impressive addition to any dinner menu, but they really are a pain to cut, and all but the sharpest knives (and potentially them too) can put your digits in danger. Save your fingers, and cut your hasselbacks the easy way.
This method works with any kind of potato and any recipe. Traditional Swedish hasselback potatoes are peeled first and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper, then topped with breadcrumbs and sometimes a hard cheese like Parmesan. But you can do anything you can imagine. I made hasselback-style loaded baked potatoes (skin on) just the other day.
And you can too… without cutting yourself.
1. Prepare the potatoes
Wash the potatoes, and let them dry thoroughly. I like to let them completely air-dry. This will prevent the potatoes from steaming in the microwave.
2. Poke holes into the potato
Use a fork to poke holes all over the potato. You don't have to go too far into the potato, just a few holes all around. Poking the holes is supposed to prevent the potatoes from exploding by allowing more air to escape. Some swear you don't have to do that and never poke their potatoes. Others swear they've had unpoked potatoes explode. I prefer to err on the side of caution. Refuse to poke at your own risk.
3. Soften the potato
Place the potato on a microwave-safe plate, and nuke it for one to two minutes. Larger potatoes will need more time than smaller ones will, but until you're sure how long, start with the shorter time. Check the potato. You just need it barely softened. If it's too soft, you'll tear the skin away (if you left it on) or crush the potato while cutting. Keep in mind that it will continue "cooking" afterward. If you feel it's necessary, flip the potato, and microwave it for another minute or two.
When it's just knife tender on the surface, pull it out of the microwave, and allow it to cool slightly. Don't let it sit too long, or it will keep getting softer and cause you issues. You want it to be just cool enough that you can touch it with nothing more than a paper towel.
I don't recommend softening more than two potatoes at a time so you can cut them before they start to get too soft.
4. Cut the potato
Use a paper towel to hold it if the potato is too hot to the touch. This method should make using a wooden spoon or chopsticks, as many hasselback potato recipes will suggest to avoid going all the way through, unnecessary. That said, if you feel it makes you faster or more accurate, use it.
You'll want to cut fairly evenly spaced thin slices along the potato. About an eighth of an inch is perfect, but don't get caught up in exact measurements. I like to cut a couple of slices on either end first, which seems to make it easier to avoid mangling the second end.
5. Coat it in fat
Using your hands or a pastry brush, coat the entire outer surface in melted butter or olive or vegetable oil, being careful to not break the potato or peel off the skin if you left it on. This will help crisp the skin.
I like to use butter, salt and pepper. Since the potato is warm, I prefer freezing the butter and cutting it into pats. Just separate the layers, and press in a pat every two or three slots (depending on how much butter you like — you're just trying to get a little flavor on the inside). Season it liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
7. It's finally time to bake
Place the potato in an oven heated to 400 degrees F. For a small potato, bake it for 25 to 30 minutes. For a medium to large potato, bake it for 45 minutes to one hour.
Add more salt (and breadcrumbs if you're doing a more traditional Swedish recipe), and put it back in the oven for another 25 to 45 minutes (depending on the size of the potato) or until the insides are fork tender and fluffy and the outside is crisp.
If you're doing loaded bakers, like I did, or want cheese of any kind (like the Parmesan that might be traditional on Swedish hasselbacks), remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool slightly. Then add cheese. You can sprinkle shredded cheese on top, but when it comes to softer cheeses like cheddar, I really like using slices the same way I did for the butter. It gets the cheese between the slots and really lets it melt on top. Then I just pop it back into the oven and let it cook until it melts, about 5 minutes.
8. Make it rain
When it comes out, garnish it as you please. I used sour cream, chopped crispy bacon and sliced green onions.