We've partnered with Shun Cutlery to answer the age-old question: Is there anything you can't hasselback? (Hint: There isn't!)
Hasselback potatoes have been popular from the moment they were invented, which according to the internet, was in 1953 by a trainee chef at a Swedish restaurant called Hasselbacken (adds up, right?). And for good reason. This straightforward yet precise technique—take a potato and carefully make super-thin, perfectly uniform slices from one end to another without cutting through the base—transforms a regular old roast potato into something ethereally soft on the inside and crispy on the edges.
After years of hearing (and dreaming) about hasselback potatoes, I finally decided to make them myself. The extra bit of effort the technique requires was beyond worth it. I was in love—and I hadn't even thought to stuff things like cheese, bacon, or sour cream in between the slices.
This revelation got me thinking that you could improve the taste and texture of just about anything using the basic technique, which hasselback expert Cory Baldwin laid out for me. The whole process is actually pretty simple (provided you have a sharp knife handy), and leaves plenty of room for creativity:
- Decide what you want to hasselback. "Any firm vegetable, tuber, or fruit is a great option (think: potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, onions, apples, pears, etc)," says Cory. "You can also hasselback things like tofu, bread, muffins, or even cake...but you might have to change up your method slightly depending on the item."
- Choose a flavor combo that works with what you want to hasselback. "You can go as simple as plain butter or olive oil or get fancy with something like chimichurri or compound butter," she says.
- Pick your stuffings. "You can slip all kinds of goodies into your accordion-sliced item, like basil leaves, slices of pepperoni, bacon bits, jalapeños, cheese, or caramelized onion for savory takes," Cory explains. If you want to go the sweet route, things like caramel, streussel, chocolate sauce, chopped nuts, and jam make great additions.
- Assemble and bake. Slice your [insert your main ingredient here] into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices; just make sure to stop about 1/4-inch from the bottom so everything stays connected at the base. An easy way to do this, Cory says, is to put a chopstick on either side and cut until your knife hits the chopsticks.
While I had a few fun hasselback ideas up my sleeve (something bready and cheesy, for starters), I wanted to see just how inventive this technique could get. Thus was born the Great Hasselback Challenge.
We asked Food52 staffers to dream up their wildest hasselback creations using Cory's basic method, and even experimented with a few of their ideas in our test kitchen. From eggplant and hard-boiled eggs to s'mores and apple pie, here are all the fantastically delicious things we're hasselbacking to prove that yes, you can use this technique on (almost) anything.
I pretty much live for queso, an addictive, gooey cheese dip. Since I am also very passionate about bread, I figured combining the two would be a great idea—and it was. Just hasselback a crusty loaf, like rustic Italian bread or sourdough, and stuff the spaces between the slices with Monterey jack and cheddar, jalapeños, and of course, chorizo crumbles. Once it's baked to melty perfection, sprinkle it with some cilantro or even green onion.
“Let’s be real. I’m not hasselbacking an avocado toast because it’s easier,” says Senior Editor Eric Kim. “But it’s a fun way to serve friends at brunch. I take an entire sourdough loaf, cut slits into it, and stuff the slits (ugh, sorry hate that word) with slices of avocado, roasted seaweed snack, and lots of cilantro. Olive oil, sesame oil, and a huge smattering of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes are a must.”
"I am all about increasing the ratio of cheese to, well, just about anything. Which is why I've always wanted to try hasselback eggplant Parmesan," says our Lifestyle Writer Ella Quittner. "Think: craggy nooks filled with so much melted cheese and a buttery breadcrumb topping. It's like regular eggplant Parm on (cheese) steroids."
"I grew up in the mountains where bonfires (and, ahem) s’mores were plentiful," says Copywriter Maggie Slover. "Luckily, life in New York has done nothing to slow down my consumption of this camp-y favorite." Her city-friendly (aka no open flame required) way to s'more: hasselback jumbo marshmallows. "To get the perfect crunch-to-melt-to-goo ratio, look no further than thin shards of dark chocolate in between the slices." Those stuffed mallows brown nicely over top graham crackers under the broiler (you should only need a minute or two) and—the best part—are pretty enough to serve at a dinner party, she tells me.
"When I’m hosting dinner for friends or family my favorite part is always planning the dessert," says Account Manager Rebekah Daniels. But while she loves the idea of making things from scratch, she doesn't always have the time. "My solution is these cute, individual-sized hasselback apples with all the apple pie fixings. You can really have fun with it and drizzle some caramel sauce, add some whipped cream, or even throw in some streusel to give it a crumble twist," she says. "It's always a winner with my friends."
"I love me some deviled eggs, but they're not the quickest thing to make for unexpected snack attacks," says our Social Media Manager Connor Bower. His solution: Make thin, hasselback-style slices in a hard-boiled egg. "Hasselbacked hard-boiled eggs let me be creative with toppings (anything from little pieces of smoked salmon and capers to spicy mayo and nori crumbles), flavors, and textures that I would normally include in deviled eggs, but in a much quicker and visually appealing fashion."
"Melon and prosciutto are a summer classic (it's that perfect balance of savory and sweet), but I love the idea of serving them in a more exciting way," says Director of Revenue Operations Zoe Paknad. "Hasselbacking the melon and stuffing it with bits of prosciutto and basil feels like a great way to jazz something up that might feel a little 'been there, done that.'"
"As a lifelong vegetarian, I’m always looking for creative new ways to change up my proteins," says our Books and Special Projects Editor, Brinda Ayer. "Cutting super-thin slices into a block of extra-firm tofu (hasselback-style, of course) with the base still attached, then basting it with a punchy sauce while roasting it, will allow the marinade to really get into the nooks and crannies," she says. Her go-to marinade: a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger-garlic paste, and chile paste. "Once the saucy tofu has roasted in the oven, top it with chopped scallions, fried shallots, and toasted sesame seeds, and dig in."
"My favorite way to make a weeknight meal feel just a little bit more special is to hasselback chicken breast and add in my favorite ingredients," says Account Coordinator Ashley Hutchison. "I personally like to stuff the slices with spinach and goat cheese before I bake the chicken in the oven. It feels like I'm getting a full meal in just one dish, and with just a handful of ingredients."
In partnership with Shun Cutlery, we're proving that you can hasselback just about anything—so long as you've got the right equipment, like a razor-sharp knife. The makers of Shun Cutlery have been hand-crafting blades in Japan for over 100 years. From their Shun Premier 7-inch Santoku and Sora 6-inch Chef's knives to their Classic 9-inch Bread Knife, they’re an essential tool for pulling off all types of cooking techniques. So, whether you're making hasselback eggplant parmesan, spicy "queso" bread, or jumbo s'mores, make sure you've got a few Shun knives on hand to make those precision-perfect slices.