It’s been a cold and damp 2016 so far where I live… and you all know what that means, right?
It means: comfort food!
You might as well admit it. Ignore those New Year’s resolutions about dieting and eating salad and sprouts and chastising the flesh. What your body needs is real food. (If you don’t believe me, check out “Hungry? Your Stomach Really Does Have a Mind of Its Own” in the 25 January 2011 edition of the Wall Street Journal or Google “satiety quotient”. Fats are not necessarily the enemy; they can help you feel fuller, faster. But I digress.)
At any rate, this evening, I made a creamy, cheesy version of Hasselback Potatoes, made famous by a chef at Stockholm’s Hasselback Hotel. These potatoes basically involve thinly sliced potatoes, with garlic in between the slices, then baked. This version adds cream (in the form of half and half) and results in a variation of potatoes au gratin, but with the slices on edge, not flat which produces a creamy middle with crispy edge points. You will love it!
First, assemble your ingredients. For this recipe, I used 5 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds’ worth), 2 cups of half-and-half, 1/2 cup (2 ounces) of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup (1 ounce) of grated Parmesan-Reggiani, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves (either dried or fresh), and (not shown), 3 tablespoons of butter, plus grated pepper and sea salt to taste. (**For those in Europe or Asia, half-and-half is like a light cream.)
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, Fahrenheit. Now, melt the butter in a small saucepan and gently (over low heat) sauté the crushed garlic until it’s tender, about 60 seconds.
Add the thyme leaves and stir, then, using a large bowl, stir into the half-and-half and cheeses. Add a splash of grated pepper.
Now, peel your potatoes and then slice them, thinly, on a mandolin grater. As you finish slicing each potato, slide the slices into the creamy-cheese mixture so the potatoes don’t start to brown.
Once all the potatoes are done, stir to make sure all the slices are coated with this lovely creamy, cheesy, garlic-y sauce.
Now, assemble the potato slices in your pan. I used a rather large (9-inches across, 3 inches deep) ceramic baking bowl. Stack the potato slices on the edge, starting on the rim of the baking bowl. (I used the handle from my mandolin slicer to keep the slices upright.)
Make a circle all around the bowl, then fill in the middle.
Now comes the best part. Pour that creamy, cheesy, garlic-y goodness all over your potatoes, then dust with sprinklings of grated sea salt and black pepper.
Cover with either the cover that comes with your baking dish or with aluminum foil, and slide onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid (or foil) and bake for another 40 minutes. Remove when the potatoes in the middle are done and let sit for five minutes or so, then serve.
We served this tonight with crusted tilapia (recipe coming next week!) and with a Nebbiolo rosé from Breaux Vineyards. This rosé had a rich, crisp edge to it which was a perfect pairing with this rich potato dish.
Happy new year!!