Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tiny truffled Hasselback potatoes

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When you decide to do something completely crazy like serve Hasselback potatoes at a party for 150 people, you find out who your true friends are.

Making Hasselback potatoes requires precise, tedious knife work. You make vertical cuts all along the length of the potatoes, but you can't cut all the way down - you want the potato to stay together on the bottom and kind of fan out on top as it bakes. It's hard, very hard, to keep the knife from cutting all the way through. And once you've cut too far, that potato goes in the reject pile.

When you're Hasselbacking big potatoes you can use a pair of chopsticks as a guide. Works great. But when you're Hasselbacking 200+ baby potatoes, as we needed to do for Trufflepalooza 2012, chopsticks don't help (they're too big compared with the height of the potato). You just have to concentrate and hope the gods are smiling down on you.

Photo: Lynne Hemer, Cook and Be Merry

Two days before Trufflepalooza, my mother and my friend Amanda sat at the dining room table and cut all those baby potatoes by hand. They didn't complain. They didn't chastise me for putting such a prep-intensive dish on the menu. And they did a great job. I am one lucky girl.

I bathed the potatoes in olive oil, roasted them crisp and golden in a hot oven, then slathered them with homemade truffle butter, showered them with freshly grated truffles, and sprinkled them with truffle salt. We passed them as finger food and watched a lot of eyes roll back in people's heads. Even if you can't get fresh truffles, try making these - the truffle butter and truffle salt will impart enough truffle-ness to wow your guests.

Note: Melissa's kindly gave me their Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes for Trufflepalooza, and I loved the texture - the potatoes got crispy on the outside but stayed creamy and soft within. If you can't find the exact same potato in your area, any fingerling or baby potato will work, although the texture may not be identical.

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Tiny truffled Hasselback potatoes
Cutting potatoes Hasselback-style requires patience, but the results are well worth the effort. The ratio of crisp to creamy is just perfect when these are done. If you're not crazy enough to make your own truffle butter like me, look for prepared truffle butter in gourmet stores (I prefer Sabatino Tartufi brand).
  • 1 pound Melissa's Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes (or any small or fingerling potato)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp truffle butter
  • 1/2 tsp truffle salt
  • freshly grated black truffle (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Lay one potato on a cutting board. With a sharp paring knife, starting at one end, make vertical cuts into the potato, top to bottom, stopping before you cut all the way through. Continue making vertical cuts about 1/4-inch apart down the length of the potato, keeping the bottom of the potato intact. Go slowly and concentrate; it's very easy to cut too far. Continue with the remaining potatoes.Put the cut potatoes into a mixing bowl and pour over the olive oil. Toss the potatoes, rubbing the oil as best you can into the cuts you've made without breaking the potatoes apart. Pour the potatoes with the oil onto a baking sheet. (Don't wash the bowl; you'll need it again later.)Bake the potatoes cut-side up in the oven for about 40 minutes. Carefully turn the potatoes over so they're cut-side down and bake another 10-15 minutes. You want the potatoes golden brown and crispy on the outside. Don't take them out too soon.When the potatoes are done, take them out of the oven and put them back in the mixing bowl. Add the truffle butter and toss gently until the butter melts and coats the potatoes. Put the potatoes on a serving tray cut-side up, sprinkle on the truffle salt, and grate the fresh truffle over the top. Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20-30 pieces


Christina | Christina's Cucina said...

Thank you, Erika!!! I'm so excited to make these!!

Stacy said...

Hi, Erika
I have never made Hasselback potatoes for so many but for my family at home I use a wooden spoon. When you rest the potato in the spoon you can cut until the spoon and therefore never cut all the way through. If you are going to offer this for another function, I'd suggest the purchase of a bunch of wooden spoons for the help! :)

Erika Kerekes said...

@Christina - I am sure your family will like them as much as mine. @Stacy - that is a great tip. I'll have to try it to see if it works with the tiny potatoes. Thanks!

Valentina said...

oh so sad to have missed these little treasures!

Libbety said...

Fantastic work! Boy do they look good...

Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious said...

Loved these spuds at your party!

Stacy's idea sounds great, for technique. I would also try (instead of chopsticks) those long wooden skewers. That might be about the right height. Must try!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I know exactly what you mean! I once made creme brulee for a wedding with 150 people. I will never forget the lovely people who helped me in my madness...

I'm trying these at my next dinner party....


Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!! The memory of those potatoes will last a lifetime. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Bathed, showered, slathered, sprinkled, crisp, golden, potatoes, truffles, butter...oh, the mental picture overload! Was that my heart missing a beat, or did I forget to breathe? It's a distinction without a difference that helped me decided what I'm making this weekend with my precious truffle butter. I quiver.

Unknown said...

I made these last night. Absolutely fabulous!! I will be doing these during the holidays:)

Erika Kerekes said...

@Susan so glad you enjoyed them. You must have the patience of a saint! Every time I think about making these again I think about cutting all those tiny potatoes and think again... :)

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