How to make luscious, lemony Swedish Hasselback potatoes
A short history of the Hasselback potato
The real name of the Hasselback potato is the Swedish, Hasselbackspotatis, because that is where it was invented.
In the 1700s there was a tavern in Djurgården, an island in Stockholm which was originally a royal game park. It was a traditional red hut in the middle of a thicket of hazel (hassel), on a steep slope (backe).
Out of these humble, rural foundations, in 1853 the Restaurang Hasselbacken (now a swish hotel) rose to become a centre for the celebrations of the rich, the famous, and the aristocratic.
In 1953, Leif Elisson from Värmland, one of the restaurant’s trainee chefs, invented the Hasselback potato – a sort of roast-fried hybrid potato which looks fabulous, and, in the right hands (yours, once you’ve read this) tastes crunchy like a roastie, but with elements of rich, softness, like the inside of a well-buttered jacket potato.
This is pretty rich! If you want to make them even richer you can scatter with fresh white breadcrumbs (giving a bit of extra crunch)… or a mix of breadcrumbs and Parmesan…. or you can, as Nigella Lawson does, use waxy potatoes, which turns them effectively into a kind of super-rich Swiss fondant potato. I do think one can have too much of a good thing!
Why I use lemon
On the other hand, to temper them a bit, I think a bit of lemon goes well. There are two other lemony potato recipes on Saucy Dressings, and both a very successful. I’m sure these luscious lemony Hasselbacks will be just as popular. Other lemony potato recipes on Saucy Dressings are:
- crushed lemony potatoes
- new potatoes with a lemony and lovage pea sauce
- wonderful wedge lemony potatoes
- crispy lemony potatoes
Other variations are:
- to sprinkle over some Spanish sweet smoked paprika;
- or some crushed, dry-fried caraway seeds.
- You can also use garlic cloves and the thyme sprigs or bay leaves to tuck between some of the potato ‘leaves’ to keep them open.
- In her book, In Praise of Veg, Alice Zaslavsky suggests making Hasselback parsnips, seasoned with rosemary and salt flakes.
Recipe for luscious, lemony Swedish Hasselback potatoes
- 8 medium roasting potatoes – Maris Piper, King Edwards or Roosters
- 1 lemon
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 8 sprigs of thyme
- A very generous amount of butter – make sure you have a whole packet on hand, you may use as much as half of it
- Smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 210°C. Take the butter out of the fridge.
- Put one of the potatoes onto a comfortably sized wooden spoon (which will stop you cutting right through) and slice downwards, at a slight angle, at about 3mm intervals (the thinner the slices, the less time they take to cook). Give the remaining potatoes the same treatment. You don’t need to peel the potatoes.
- Rinse off the surface starch of all the potatoes under running water. This will help to stop the ‘leaves’ you have just created from sticking.
- Put the potatoes onto an oiled roasting tin, cut side up. If you line the tray first with foil you will make washing up a doddle….
- Cut the lemon in half, and drizzle the juice of both sides over the cut potatoes. Cut what remains of the lemons into thin slivers and scatter them, together with the sprigs of thyme, around the potatoes.
- Lightly smash…bruise really… the cloves of garlic, with their skin still on. Add to the lemon and thyme.
- Spread the inside of the leaves of the potatoes with generous coatings of butter. Then slather more butter around the exterior of the potato. Set the potatoes back, stably, on their bottoms. Season generously.
- Drizzle some olive oil over the lemon, garlic and thyme.
- Put in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Take out, and remove the lemon, garlic and thyme.
- Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Baste. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes. The more often you baste, the better the result!
- Present them, together with the roasted lemon slices. Squeeze the soft garlic out of its skin, and smear into the potatoes. Serve!