Winter Sides: Part Two

Sometimes, cold weather has me craving a piece of meat. Something like a bit of steak or a proper pork chop. But that's not nearly enough. I also need some side dishes that will make the meal complete. I'd even go so far as to say that the side dishes actually make the meal:

Last time around, we talked about those lovely carrots in the background. This time around, we're devoting some time to the amazing potato in the foreground. We begin by foregoing a normal baked potato and trying our hands at hasselback potatoes. If you've not tried them before, now is a perfect time. Simply slice them nearly through, leaving you with an accordian-like potato that can be opened and closed by tipping it back and forth. Brush it generously with some seasoned butter and oil, and pop it in the oven. A bit later, brush it again — the second time, you will impart a lot more flavor because the first stay in the oven will have your potato "blooming" as it roasts.

Then, while your taters are finishing in the oven, whip up a tangy, spicy, sweet sauce comprised of goat cheese and pepper jelly. Like it hot? Choose a spicier jelly. Want to keep it mild? Stick with bell pepper jelly. Either way, you'll have a lovely sauce that will literally melt into all of those nooks and crannies when you spoon it over those hot roasted potatoes. The finishing touch? A sprinkle of your favorite gourmet salt or salt blend. Then? Well, dig in, of course!

Hasselback Potatoes with Pepper-Chevre Sauce

  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper — choose according to your spice preferences
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 2 oz. chèvre, at room temperature
  • 1-2 tsp. red pepper jelly
  • Salt or seasoning salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Scrub the potatoes well. 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. Place the sliced potatoes in a baking dish.

Combine the melted butter, olive oil, ground red pepper (I used chipotle to give them a smoky-spicy flavor), granulated garlic, and salt. Brush the mixture over the potatoes in the baking dish. You will not use it all. Reserve the remainder and place the baking dish in the preheated oven. After 25 minutes, remove the baking dish and brush them again with the mixture. Press apart any layers that have not naturally spread apart from the baking. Replace the baking dish and bake another 30 minutes, until the potatoes are crispy on the edges and soft at the center.

While the potatoes are baking, combine the chèvre and red pepper jelly. You may wish to microwave the jelly for about 10 seconds to help it liquify, as that will make mixing easier. To serve, spoon some of the goat cheese sauce over the hot potatoes and sprinkle with salt or seasoning salt (I used a blend of coarse salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic).

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

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