Spuds, Spuds, Spuds!

Community FoodBank just landed 5,200 pounds of beautiful, Idaho potatoes. Actually, that’s a misnomer, indicating a type of potato. The large potatoes, often tipping the scales at a couple of pounds, sport a rough, brown or russeted skin. They’re the ones that bake up fluffy and light. These hail from the Tulelake region, high in the northeast corner of California.

But Tulelake and Idaho share something in common, and that’s deep, rich, volcanic soils — perfect for these hefty beauties.

Here’s a way to dress them up that’s not much more trouble than just popping them into the oven. It comes to us from our friends at the New York Times, but it was invented in the 1950s in Stockholm, Sweden. It departs from the original by substituting lighter oil for the original’s hefty dose of butter. These really are easy to make; they just don’t look like it.

Hasselback Potatoes


8 large Idaho or other large russet potatoes, about 1 pound each
⅔ cup olive oil or a neutral oil like grapeseed
4 plump garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and left whole
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika(optional)
Kosher or coarse sea salt


-Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a pot. Cover with cold water by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as water boils, set a timer and cook potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water, and let cool to room temperature. (This can be done up to 1 day ahead. Do not refrigerate.)

-Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine oil, garlic and paprika in a bowl or measuring cup. Have a pastry brush ready.

-Place a potato on a large spoon. Use a sharp knife to make 1/8-inch-thick slices in the potato, crosswise, without cutting through the bottom, so potato remains intact. The sides of the spoon will prevent the blade from going too far down. (Or, rest potato on counter and line up a chopstick on each side to block the knife.) Don’t worry if the potato skin starts to shred; it will look fine after baking. Repeat with remaining potatoes.

-Place potatoes on a piece of foil and brush generously with the paprika oil, using fingers to separate slices and let oil drip down. Sprinkle with salt, making sure that it gets between the slices.

-Place on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush again with oil. Use oven mitts to gently squeeze potato and open up the slices. Sprinkle again with salt. Bake 10 to 20 minutes more, until potatoes are cooked through. Serve whole or half potatoes.

Community Food Bank’s mission is to provide food, nutritional education and advocacy for our neighbors in need within San Benito County.


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