Bringing hasselback

Hasselback beetroot with lime leaf butter
Trends and fashions come and go.Feathers, organza and unironed pyjamas appear acceptable in one era, before stepping aside to tweed and home made knits. The same can be said for how particular ingredients are introduced and disregarded again as soon as trends change in our kitchens.The lovechild of a potato chip and a baked potato, the hasselback potato combines the best of both worlds; it's crispy on the outside with a creamy centre. Either serve the potato as is, letting the buttery herbs speak for themselves, add a dollop of sour cream or chives into the accordion folds, or do as I have done, brought hasselback to the table as a side dish with an anecdotal charm and a whiff of intrigue. I have given the dish a connection to Portugal by borrowing from another Swedish dish, Jannsen potatoes.
The trademark dish of the Hasselbacken hotel and restaurant in Stockholm, these Swedish-style roast potatoes, thinly sliced widthways but held together at the base, fan out like an accordion when they are baked. They look hugely impressive, and manage also to combine just about everything that makes potatoes so addictive: the edges are as crisp as any french fry, while underneath is a creamy, fondant  centre. Bacalhau is still prolific in Portugal despite the fact that its historically purposeful task was to provide long life nourishment in the days before refrigeration was an option. It is all due to the Vikings, who navigated the coast of Portugal to trade goods and ideas. Dragging home with them Portuguese princesses to marry Danish kings, and more importantly, vast quantities of salt to preserve their cod.

The Vikings have produced many of my favourite potato dishes and so I decided to bring this long standing association of two culinary diverse cultures together with a bit of Scandinavian culinary skullduggery. Include a classic Portuguese staple, the anchovy, and the result is a simple recipe that I owe big time to Jansson, whoever he was. Fast forward to 2021 and it seems that the Hasselback method is definitely having a moment. And while potatoes may be the ultimate classic Hasselback, and dont get me wrong I revere the noble potato,in all its forms, from chips to mash, and roast to hash, this method is perfectly suited for a variety of other foods, including beets!I have taken Ottolenghi´s hasselback beetroot with lime butter ( top ) as an example example.His way with beetroot,from his book Flavours is packed with punch.
Hasselbacken Jannson
This simple recipe transforms the humble spud into a delicious, perfect baked potato with just 5 ingredients

30g can anchovy fillets in olive oil 
25g butter 
2 medium onions, very finely sliced 
4 medium, waxy potatoes (about 800g), thinly sliced 
284ml carton double cream, made up to 300ml with milk

1 large russet, baker, or red potato per portion 
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs 
1 tablespoon melted butter 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Drain the anchovies, reserving their oil. Gently heat half the butter in a saucepan and stir in the anchovy oil as it melts. Add the onions and fry over a low heat until they are very sweet – don’t let them brown. This should take a good 20 minutes. Once cooked, set aside. 
Scrub your potatoes until good and clean.Using a sharp knife, make slices across the potato, being sure to stop before you reach its bottom. If you’re scared of cutting too far, a good technique is resting the potato between two  wooden chopsticks. The chopsticks will actually prevent you from going too far!Next, open the potatoes’ crevices and with a teaspoon carefully insert dollops of the anchovy onion mixture into every other crevice,followed by some cream.When you have filled all the alternate crevices,mix bread crumbs together with the melted butter, then sprinkle over the top of the potatoes. 
Bake them at 400ºF/200C for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on their size.

Hasselback beetroot with lime leaf butter

To offset the extra work, start with shop-bought ready-cooked beetroots (plain, not in vinegar).
Serves 4 as a side

8-10 medium-large beetroots (that’s about 2 bunches), skin on (1.2kg)
or 8-10 ready-cooked beetroots (1kg)
Flaked sea salt

For the lime leaf butter
90g unsalted butter
40ml olive oil
5 fresh Kaffir or Makrut lime leaves, chopped
10g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lime juice, plus 2 tsp to serve

For the lime leaf salsa
10 fresh Kaffir or Makrut lime leaves, stalks removed and very finely chopped
½ tsp fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
½ garlic clove, crushed
½ green chilli, very finely chopped (deseeded for less heat)
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/ 425F/gas 7. Place the beets in a baking dish in a single layer. Fill with water to 2cm up the sides, sprinkle on one tablespoon of salt, cover tightly with foil and bake for one hour and 20 minutes, or until a knife goes through easily. Discard water and, when cool enough, peel off the skin under cold running water (wear gloves to avoid staining). Halve larger beetroots lengthways. Reduce oven temperature to 190C.
While the beetroots are cooking, put the butter, oil, lime leaves, ginger and garlic into a small pan on a medium-high heat. Gently cook until the butter begins to bubble, about four minutes, then set aside to infuse for at least 40 minutes. Discard the aromatics, then stir in one tablespoon of lime juice and one teaspoon of flaked salt.
For the salsa, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of flaked salt, and set aside.
Cut slits in the peeled beetroots at 4mm intervals, stopping about 1cm from the bottom. Place on a small parchment-lined baking tray and fan the slices out. Spoon the melted butter evenly over, especially between the slices. Roast for one and a quarter hours, basting very well every 20 minutes or so, until the edges are crisp and caramelised. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.


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