Check out my new plant!
It’s a bay laurel, it arrived here in January from Cobourg, Ontario (thanks, Heather) and is still alive. An accomplishment of which I am very proud.
It’s great to have fresh herbs for cooking, though in the case of bay leaves, the dried leaves are more often used. When the leaves are dried they become more pungent so you don’t need to use as many when you’re cooking. In my case, this is not a problem because I’ve got plenty of them.
Bay leaves are mostly used in stews and soups and today in hasselback potatoes, which are named for the hotel in Sweden where they were popularized. The potatoes have a great textural contrast between the crunchy, almost chip-like outside and the tender inside.
Here’s what happens.
Scrub some potatoes.
Get ready to slice them. Here’s the trick I picked up somewhere along the way: place a chopstick on either side of the potato to act as a guard to stop cutting the potato all the way through.
Get some butter and melt it.
Grab some bay leaves.
Place a couple of bay leaves in between the slices, along with some fresh thyme.
Pour the melted butter over the potatoes, being sure to get some butter between the slices.
Ready for the oven.
A Hasselback Potato.
Here’s a recipe for the potatoes:
How To Make Hasselback Potatoes
4 large potatoes, Yukon Gold, Russet, or Red Bliss
4 tablespoons melted butter, olive oil, duck fat, bacon fat, coconut oil or a mix
Optional extras: minced fresh herbs, spices, grated cheese, bread crumbs, panko crumbs
Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the lower-middle position.
Wash and dry the potatoes: Scrub the potatoes clean and pat them dry. Alternatively, you can peel the skins off.
Cut slits in the potatoes, leaving the bottom intact: Cut slits into the potato, stopping just before you cut through so that the slices stay connected at the bottom of the potato. Space the slices 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch apart. You can rest the potato in a large serving and use that as a guide for when to stop slicing — slice straight down and when your knife hits the edge of the spoon, stop slicing.
Brush the potatoes with half the fat: Arrange the potatoes in a baking dish. Brush the potatoes all over with butter or other fat, including the bottoms.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper: Sprinkle the potatoes generously with salt and pepper.
Bake 30 minutes, then brush with butter: Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes. At this point, the layers will start separating. Remove the pan from the oven and brush the potatoes again with fat — you can nudge the layers apart if they’re still sticking together. Make sure some of the fat drips down into the space between the slices.
Bake another 30 to 40 minutes: Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are crispy on the edges and easily pieced in the middles with a paring knife. If you’re adding any extras, stuff those into the slits and sprinkle over the top 5 to 10 minutes before the end of cooking. (Total baking time is 60 to 70 minutes for average potatoes; if your potatoes are on the small side or are larger, adjust cooking time accordingly.)
Serve immediately: These potatoes are best straight from the oven while the edges are at their crispiest.