I’m not sure how I ever missed hearing about the hasselback potato. In my opinion, it’s nothing short of a miracle of nature. It’s tender, extremely flavorful and great at parties. Ever since I made my hasselback potatoes, I’ve wanted to continue on with something similar, but different. During my travels, I bumped into a nice looking hasselback potato gratin recipe put out by the New York Times. I also found another one put out by Serious Eats. Both of these recipes were casseroles, which I really liked, and both made me hungry, which I really liked as well. Those two factors drove me directly straight towards today’s project.
I’m going to tell you something – I’ve never heard of hasselback potatoes before last week. Now, it seems like they’re everywhere. I can’t seem to get away from them. Either they’ve become super-popular since last Monday or my ears are simply more attentive to the name. Whatever it is, I’m sure glad I discovered them because they’re really, really tasty. And believe it or not, today’s dish is much better than the individual potatoes I put together previously. This is the recipe I’m going to save and prepare again later on. This is the dish that’s going to get me in trouble.
For this recipe, I purchased a 10 pound bag of russet potatoes. I’d say I used about half of them. Since I really had no idea how many I was going to use out of the 10 pounds, I sliced some extras. I’d say I ended up using approximately 40% of the bag, or 4 pounds. As I write this, Laura and I are roasting the leftovers with some rosemary and olive oil in the oven. So, if you decide to go ahead with this recipe, be sure to slice enough to get you through. Once you begin, there’s no turning back, especially once you start getting your hands dirty when you have to coat each slice with the cream and cheese mixture. It’s messy and the last thing you want to do is stop to slice more potatoes. You can always use the extras for something.
3 Ounces Finely Grated Gruyère or Swiss Cheese
2 Ounces Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Garlic Cloves (Minced)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves (Chopped)
1 Teaspoon Regular Table Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
4 to 4 1/2 Pounds Russet Potatoes (Sliced about 1/8 inch thick)
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
The idea behind this recipe is to arrange the potatoes in such as way as to allow them to absorb all the flavors of the cream and cheese mixture, while exposing the top edges of the potatoes to the elements, therefore making them crispy. When preparing this recipe, I don’t want you to worry about how they’re going to soften and absorb the mixture when they’re so tightly packed together. The heat and nature does all the work. As long as you follow the instructions down below, you’ll be fine.
Wash the Potatoes
I know I don’t have to go over this again, but the very first thing you’re going to need to do is to wash all the potatoes you’re going to use. There’s always a bit of dirt on them and you don’t really want to eat that.
Slice the Potatoes
This is probably the most time consuming task of all the preparation. If you have a slicing tool, go ahead and use it. Just be sure you’re slicing each potato thin enough. I used my chef’s knife, so every single one of them isn’t exactly the same thickness, but they are pretty close. It’s important to have uniform thickness because you want everything to cook at the same rate. Slice them all and then store them in a bowl for later use.
Shred the Cheese
This is probably the second most time consuming task of all the preparation. Now, I’ll tell you, the original recipe calls for Gruyère cheese, but when I was in the market looking through all the cheeses, what I found was Gruyère that cost around $18.99 a pound. Call me crazy, but I don’t buy anything that costs $18.99 per pound, no matter how “lovely” it’s described online. Because of this, I went with my trusted $6.99 per pound chunk of Swiss. It hasn’t failed me yet, and it didn’t during this recipe.
For this step, pull out your box grater and grate the 3 ounces Swiss or Gruyère and the 2 ounces of Parmesan. Place in a bowl for later use. It doesn’t matter if you mix them. In the photo below, I kept them separate for the sake of taking a nice picture of them.
Be careful as you grate these cheeses and place them in the bowl. As you grate, they’ll fall gracefully to the table. When you’re finished and go to pick up the piles, you might compress them with your fingers, which will make them clump. This is true especially for the Swiss. I slid my wide knife under the piles of cheese and transferred it into the bowl like that.
I think it’s probably safe to pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees at this point. For some reason, my oven didn’t take long to heat up at all today and it aligned perfectly with when I needed it. Also, you’ll want to place the rack in the middle position.
Make Cream & Cheese Mixture
Before you do anything, take 1/3 of the cheese you already grated and place it into another bowl and set aside. You’ll use that towards the end. With the rest, add the 2 cups of heavy cream, the 2 cloves of minced garlic, the 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, the 1 teaspoon of salt and the 1 teaspoon of black pepper. At this point, all those ingredients should be in the first bowl with the 2/3 portion of grated cheese. Go ahead and mix it all together.
Mix in the Sliced Potatoes
The problem with this step is that you don’t yet know how many sliced potatoes you’ll need to fill the casserole dish. If you add too many, you might have leftover potatoes with nothing to do with. Because of this, I tossed a handful of potatoes into the cream and cheese mixture and coated them on all sides. After that, I stacked them into the casserole dish. When that was done, my hands were very messy, so I asked Laura to throw in another few handfuls. I coated them, being sure to separate all the potato slices that were stuck together, and arranged them in the casserole as well. It took a few batches, but I got it done.
Grease Casserole & Add Potatoes
Before I added any potatoes, I greased the entire casserole with the softened butter. When I was finished with that, I added the potatoes, making sure they were all tightly packed together. Again, don’t concern yourself with how they’re going to cook. Under the aluminum foil, tasty miracles happen.
When adding the potatoes to the casserole, don’t be too picky with how they look. As long as they are standing on their edges, they should be okay.
Add Excess Cream & Cheese To Casserole
After coating all the potatoes you’ll use for this dish, you should have some extra cream and cheese mixture. Go ahead and use a rubber spatula to scrape that out of the bowl and on top of the potatoes. Try to cover everything consistently.
Cover Casserole with Foil and Place in Oven
At this point, I ripped a piece of aluminum foil off its roll and tightly covered the casserole dish with it. Once I was finished, I popped the casserole into the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove Aluminum Foil
After everything cooks for 30 minutes, go ahead and remove the foil. The casserole should look something like this:
Place the casserole back into the oven for another 30 minutes or until the top starts turning golden brown.
Add Remaining Cheese
This is where things get a little dicey. When I took my casserole out of the oven, it looked like the next photo. I’d say it was done at this point. However, the original recipes called for adding the remaining cheese and placing everything back into the oven for about 10-20 more minutes to brown once again. I did that and it didn’t look so hot. The edges of the inside of the casserole became dark and the cheese stayed somewhat white. I didn’t like the way it looked. I’ll tell you, it tastes great, but I wouldn’t advise taking a photo of it or serving it this way at a party. It’s up to you. Either you can call the recipe finished and delicious at this point or you can add the remaining cheese and keep on cooking. Either way, you’re going to love what you’ve just created.
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