Bon Appétit (November 2016)
Hasselback potatoes have been in fashion for years now. They show up on cooking shows and in food magazines, in cookbooks and on restaurant menus.
It sounds and looks fancy. But it's really just a simple knife technique, taking a vegetable, such as a potato, and slicing crosswise in close intervals down the length of the vegetable. The slices are deep but not quite all the way through, resulting in something that's often described as looking like a fan or an accordion. To us it looks like a letter holder -- you know, if people still got letters.
Here are some true (or potentially true) origin stories for hasselback potatoes:
- They were invented by Rosie O'Donnell to taunt Elizabeth Hasslebeck and the name is intentionally misspelled. (Not true, but we wish it were.)
- Ina Garten popularized hasselback potatoes in American kitchens after seeing them in a prepared-food shop window in London years ago. (Bitten Word reader Jim told us this; we hope this one is true, because, duh, Contessa.)
- They are named after the restaurant in which they were first made, Hasselbacken, in Stockholm, which opened in 1748. (This is true, at least according to the Internets. And we all know how reliable the Internet is.)
Wherever it came from, Bon Appétit gave it a twist this Thanksgiving by hasselbacking the heck out of some whole butternut squash.
It was so beautiful in the magazine that we had to try it.
The technique here is easy as long as you have a sharp knife and a steady hand. The butternut get partially cooked before you slice them -- that's smart, because it makes slicing much easier. So you simply bake, slice and then bake some more. And somewhere in there you make a glaze that's used to baste the squash every 10 minutes for its final hour of cooking.
Two of the tasks here are a downright bore:
- Peeling a butternut squash is one of autumn's worst kitchen tasks. Perhaps our vegetable peeler is dull. Perhaps we're just whiners. Regardless, some say you can make peeling butternut easier by microwaving your butternut for 3 to 4 minutes. We haven't tried it (if you do, please report back!).
- In the midst of Thanksgiving prep madness, having a dish that cooks for an hour and needs basting every 10 minutes is just plain annoying. We don't have a solution for this, except for you to deputize an official baster and make them babysit your hasselbacks.
This Hasselback Butternut Squash looks so darn pretty when it hits the table there will literally be oohs and aahs. There will probably be applause.
It's a showstopper on the plate, with its thin slices, bay leaves (we still don't believe in them but we give them a pass here) and deep colors from the roasting and glaze. And then there's the unexpected: The glaze, depending on the strength of the chiles you use in it, balances the sweet squash with a good hit of heat, giving the dish an entirely new, unexpected element.
It's all an interesting Thanksgiving dish twist that we think is well worth your time.
Feel free to share your own Hasselback origin stories. We had about 20 more that we'll spare you.
- 2016's biggest Thanksgiving food trends
- The comprehensive 2016 Thanksgiving index -- every recipe from every magazine
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY
We had to substitute a jalapeño chile for a Fresno -- we liked the heat of the jalapeño.
1 large butternut squash or 2–3 small honeynut squash (about 3 pounds total)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
¼ cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6–8 dried bay leaves
Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove skin and white flesh below (you should reach the deep orange flesh). Rub all over with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast in a baking dish just large enough to hold halves side by side until beginning to soften (a paring knife should easily slip in only about ¼"), 15–18 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring chile, maple syrup, butter, and vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally and removing chile as soon as desired heat level is reached (set aside for serving), until just thick enough to coat spoon, 6–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and keep glaze warm.
Transfer squash to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, score rounded sides of squash halves crosswise, going as deep as possible but without cutting all the way through. Return squash to baking dish, scored sides up, and tuck bay leaves between a few of the slices; season with salt and pepper.
Roast squash, basting with glaze every 10 minutes or so and using pastry brush to lift off any glaze in dish that is browning too much, until tender and glaze forms a rich brown coating, 45–60 minutes. Serve topped with reserved chiles.
Do Ahead: Squash can be roasted 4 hours ahead. Let cool until just warm; cover and store at room temperature. Reheat before serving.