embracing the stereotype



Hasselback potato

Let’s face it – stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, created by characteristics or behavioral patterns that occur at least enough of the time for it to define that group of people. And while the word “stereotype” might carry a bit of a negative connotation, it necessarily isn’t within the word’s definition.

Have you heard of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? It’s a game that’s based around the idea that any two people on Earth are, on average, about six acquaintance links apart. When in a 1994 article Kevin Bacon claimed he’d worked with “everyone in Hollywood or someone that’s worked with them”, three Albright College students took the statement and ran with it (I surmise liquor might have been involved also) to create the game where a name of an actor is suggested and you see how many steps, or degrees, it takes to get back to Kevin Bacon. Google has even jumped on board now. In the search window type in – with no quotations marks – merely “bacon number” and the name of an actor or actress to get said person’s Bacon number. Your results look something like this.

Bacon number

I really am going somewhere with this.

What’s the first thing you think of when someone says they’re from Idaho? I’m going to wager it’s potatoes. It’s a stereotype that all people in Idaho are somehow affiliated with potatoes but if you played the same game – maybe we should call it the Spud Score – I bet you wouldn’t make it past a Spud Score of 2 or 3 in degrees of separation between the growers in this state and most everyone else. I’m certainly no exception… two of my biggest clients are the Idaho Potato Commission and Idahoan Foods and I’m proud to represent both of these companies. Guess that makes my Spud Score a 1.

As New Year’s eve rolled around we found ourselves co-hosting a dinner party with a chef friend. Although he is completely nonjudgmental, I am always self conscious when cooking with him. Is my technique correct? Am I doing this right? Or more importantly, am I doing it the way he would?

As if that wasn’t already enough stress, with the pressures of finances around this time of year, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to splurge on expensive ingredients which might offer at least a little distraction. In fact, I was trying to just use things I had on hand and you can bet this Idaho girl had a nice bag of Idaho® Potatoes.

The great thing about potatoes is that they are filling and can be prepared as classic favorites (think mashed) or elevated in a sky-is-the-limit kind of way as is exemplified in so many ways on the Idaho Potato Commission’s web site, especially in the foodservice section with a plethora of recipes submitted by and for folks in the restaurant industry.

That’s where I found this recipe for Hasselback potatoes (complete with video by Average Betty).

Hasselback Potatoes
Makes 6

2 garlic clove, smashed
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Butter, as needed
6 medium sized Idaho® potatoes
6 garlic cloves, sliced
Herbs, saffron or other seasonings of choice

Preheat oven to 425°F. Simmer smashed garlic, 2 tablespoon olive oil and a tablespoon or so of butter in a small saucepan over low heat until ingredients are blended.

Cutting hasselback

Place potato between two cutting boards that are the same thickness. Starting at one end, thinly slice each potato – the cutting boards on either side will keep you from cutting all the way through (a slick trick to remember for other applications for sure!). Place potatoes in a pan of cold water with a little lemon juice in it if you’re going to do this step ahead of time. This will keep your potatoes from browning.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet (covered with aluminum foil for easy clean up) and drizzle with garlic oil mixture. Bake about 40 minutes until exterior is crispy and interior is soft.

While potatoes are baking, heat remaining olive oil in a saucepan over low heat with sliced garlic and any other seasonings you might want to use. Slowly bring oil to a light simmer and when garlic is golden, remove pan from heat to infuse until potatoes are done.

When potatoes are ready, strain oil through a fine meshed strainer and drizzle over potatoes. Top with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fresh chopped herbs or a little grated Parmesan would be nice too.

These potatoes were like nothing any of the guests had seen before – even the chef. They were simple, showy and delicious. So I guess an Idaho girl blogging about potatoes is a little like a Mexican making a recipe with beans, a German drinking a beer or an Italian serving up pasta. There I go with those stereotypes again, but I think they are stereotypes we can all be proud of.

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About bistroonesix

I have an interest in all things food and am lucky enough to be surrounded by people that share this same passion. There’s never a shortage of inspiration or partners in collaboration. Some of my happiest memories involve big tables covered with food, plenty of wine, and extra chairs pulled up to accommodate all the friends and family. If I can help facilitate these kinds of evenings, well then I’d say this is a great hobby to have. I live in Boise, Idaho with my husband and 2 adorable cats.

2 comments

  1. Plates of Art

    This looks so pretty! I bet sprinkles of pepper would also add some great flavor!

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