Hasselback that azz up.
Hasselback In the U.S.S.R. image
Credit: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky

It might seem so 2013, but let me assure you—hasselbacking is a trick that just won’t quit. Here’s why: It’s fun and functional. In a world that says, "No ma’am/sir, you cannot have it all..." hasselbacking says, "Oh yes you can."

Fittingly enough, the technique (and its title) is believed to have originated during the 1950s in the kitchen of Restaurang Hasselbacken, the eatery of a well-to-do Stockholm hotel with a reputation for decadent soirees. The Swedish style of roasted potatoes entails making thin slices, crosswise, down the length of each potato (cutting close-to but not all the way through) before basting the potatoes with melted butter or oil and baking at a high temperature (ideally basting them again during the cooking process). The result: Strapping spuds flaunting roughly a bazillion crispy edges—the kind of crinkly, crisp potato ridges that make you feel giddy and hopeful as a grown-ass adult—to crown their tender, buttery tater wonderlands within. Also known as, hasselbackspotatis.

And just look at ‘em! All those little slits and slats—they look like wee potato accordions; how whimsical! See what I mean, functional and fun!

Credit: Alison Miksch; Food Styling: Cat Steele; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower

You can of course customize a hasselback potato with toppings galore… cheese, bacon crumbles, herbs, you name it. Whatever you crave in the deepest crevices of your heart, you can probably coax into the crevices of a russet potato. And that’s certainly one way to start the party, but hasselbacking is a move you can take far beyond the potato. Once you realize/embrace that, you’re apt to land at the next best possible p-word one can apply to hasselbacking. That’s right, I’m talking about puns.

You know what they say, where there’s a pun, there’s some FUN to to be had. (I seriously hope you were in the mood for fun today…) At its simplest, a good food pun carried through is a commendable party trick that makes you look like a witty, and possibly even adorable, cook/host. At a higher degree of involvement, a good food pun can serve as the foundation for a brilliant themed dinner party. (This is particularly fun to do at the holidays with friends who are on, or exceed, your level of dorkdom.)

WATCH: How to Hasselback

Either way, when you take the time-honored Swedish move of hasselbacking, which we have already established is highly functional, and layer on some grade-A pun action, ain’t nobody about to have a poor time at your table. Because even if they love virtually nothing else in this world, people love food, people love puns, and people love a touch of whimsy. These are facts.

Based on said facts, we developed the following pun-inspired hasselbacks to help get your next party started.

Hasselback in the U.S.S.R.

Hasselback In the U.S.S.R. image
Credit: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky

The opening track on The Beatles’ White Album was written by Paul McCartney as a clever spin on Chuck Berry’s 1959 hit, Back in the U.S.A.; and then these hasselback beets were developed as a clever and delicious spin for a vegetable that rarely receives the spotlight it so deserves. Here, the sweet, humble beet is elevated into a show-stopping side dish via a bold but balanced Eastern European flavor profile and a little hasselback magic. A bright sour cream sauce complements the earthy sweetness of this underrated root veggie, while toasty caraway seeds and their B.F.F dill round things out for a nuanced vegetable experience that tastes as delightful as it looks. Served alongside a simple pork roast, these hasselback beauties are all you need to bring a little playful spirit and wow-factor to a seated dinner scenario.

Now, if you’re really looking for a good time and are ready to cut loose, you may want to hasselback even further outside of the box, and drop the produce altogether…

Buckle up, wild thang. What you’re seeking is a hasselbaguette.

Hasselback of Notre Dame

Hasselback of Notre Dame image
Credit: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robin Bashinsky

This hasslebacked baton of crusty French bread stands to remind us that it’s what’s on the inside that counts… And in this case, what’s on the inside happens to be melted blue cheese and bread that’s completely saturated in garlic butter. So heaven help you if you didn’t count on at least 8 other people partaking in this adventure with you.

There’s no doubt, you know as soon as you tear off a slice of this buttery cheese bombshell that it’s the type of thing you shouldn’t eat more than once in a given calendar year. Which is exactly why this recipe makes a great platter for holiday gatherings. The spiritual joy it brings is well worth the dietary indulgence. Watch your friends’ faces as they take their first bite, you’ll witness exactly what I’m talking about.

See, the real reason hasselbacking isn’t going out of style is that to hasselback is to remind oneself that your kitchen and dinner table are places to have some fun. (I promise, I’m barring myself from that word for at least the next 3000 that I write.) I, for one, need that reminder every so often.

So the next time you’re having people over and aren’t feeling particularly inspired, or you feel yourself slipping into a more pervasive cooking rut—just do it. Do the hasselback.