Gruyere. Gorgonzola. Emmentaler. Jarlsberg. Gouda.
I have quite the affinity for cheese. Ever seen an excel spreadsheet compiled of cheeses and their taste? I made one. It was at the height of my cheese craze, and I needed to keep track of my favorites. So why not make a spreadsheet? That’s the normal thing to do, right!?
Sounds crazy. I know. But you don’t understand….I love cheese.
I can give up carbs for diets, no problem. When it comes to that creamy dairy product, though, there’s no way I can steer clear for very long.
To prove my cheese obsession to you, here’s this. My family and I used to go on road trips every summer. One year we traipsed through Louisiana. The next, the Southwestern half of the United States. And finally, for my senior summer in high school, we planned an epic road trip through almost every state west of the Mississippi River. One leg of that journey was the coast of Oregon.
Knowing we would be driving through Oregon, I asked if we could stop in Tillamook and take a tour of their famed cheese factory. My stepdad gladly obliged.
I was in heaven.
Cheese as far as the eye could see. The beauty of gifted hands and precision machinery crafting their delectable cheddars—-it was awe-inspiring.
I’ve since slightly grown out of my cheese fandom, but I still experiment and tinker with cheese flavors and types. Stilton remains my favorite, with its crumbly texture and dried fruits, but Tillamook cheddar lingers fondly in my heart.
Knowing that Oregon would probably make it into the March Madness bracket, I decided I had to make a recipe that was a tribute to that delicious brand. My grocery store carries many different flavors of Tillamook cheese, but I chose a special reserve extra sharp cheddar and a creamy white cheddar to go into this ooey-gooey potato gratin.
Unlike a normal gratin, though, this one stands thinly sliced potatoes up vertically in a baking dish—hence the Hasselback name. The creamy garlic sauce really shines in this dish, but you can definitely savor the cheesiness, too.
The best part is how this side dish is crispy on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside. Each mouthful is loaded with crispy browned cheese, and it’s immediately delightful. I think that it is the perfect nod to that beautiful Oregon factory.
Oregon Hasselback Potato Gratin
A creamy, cheesy potato au gratin that also doubles as Hasselback potatoes.
- 5 oz. finely grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
- salt & pepper
- 4-4.5 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8″ thick (very thin)
- 2 TBS. unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 1/3 of the grated cheese with garlic and thyme. Add cream and mix well. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is well coated with cream mix.
- Grease a two quart baking dish with butter. Pick up a handful of potatoes in cream mixture and neatly stack vertically in baking dish. Continue placing potatoes around baking dish, working around the outside edge first and then into the middle. The potatoes should be tightly packed.
- Pour excess cream mixture over the top of the potatoes. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp around the edges. Sprinkle with reserved cheese and bake for another 30 minutes until melted and crispy.
Thinly slice potatoes to about 1/8″ thick. You can use a mandolin, but I didn’t have one so I made precision cuts with a very sharp knife.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine 1/3 of the cheese with garlic and thyme in a large bowl.
Add cream and stir until mixed well. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Add potato slices to cream mixture and toss with your hands until each slice is well coated. Grease a two quart baking dish with butter. Pick up a handful of potatoes in the cream mixture and neatly stack vertically in baking dish. Continue placing in dish, working around the outside edge and then inside. The potatoes should be tightly packed.
Pour excess cream mixture over potatoes. Wrap tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes until browned and crisp around the edges.
Sprinkle with reserved cheese and bake for another 30 minutes until melted and crisp. Serve immediately.