What’s cooking today: Hasselback potatoes in the coals

What’s cooking today: Hasselback potatoes in the coals
Tony Jackman’s paprika-butter hasselback potato cooked in foil in hot coals, served on an enamel plate. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Can you cook hasselback potatoes in the coals? Would they have that roast-potato crispiness that makes them so great? I needed to know.

Hasselback potatoes are ridged and cooked in very hot oil in the oven. They turn out beautifully crisp. They’re a dream to all of us who love the crunch that only a perfectly cooked chip or roast potato can give, and hasselbacks give more crunch than most.

Normally, the oil has to be preheated in a pan (I use a deep loaf tin) in a very hot oven so that when you slide them potatoes into the oil (using a slotted spoon) the fat starts splattering instantly. Then they cook for at least an hour, perhaps 90 minutes, until they’re just divine.

But coals are not an oven, and there’s nowhere for the oil to go. Could it work as well? Yes, it could.

These came out very well, brimful of flavour from the paprika butter I used, the outer shell super crisp. Unlike oven hasselbacks, the crispiness did not continue into the slits of the sliced upper part, but the outer ridges had a beautiful crunch.

But they do need time, a double wrapping of heavy duty foil, and need to be cooked right in the very hot coals.

Here’s how…


For 4 hasselback potatoes:

4 medium to large potatoes

4 double-folded pieces of foil (be generous)

4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature

1 heaped tsp paprika

Salt and black pepper to taste


Prepare a fire with masses of hot coals.

Peel the potatoes. Using a sharp knife, very carefully slice them until just over halfway through using a sawing motion. Make the gaps between them very narrow so that 1 cm has about three slits in it. Mind your fingers.

In a bowl, mix together the butter, paprika, salt and pepper.

Using fingers to prise each slit apart just a little, use a blunt knife to push butter into each slit, as much as you can without breaking them. Spread the rest of the paprika butter over the outside of the potatoes.

Wrap each potato in double foil, tightly.

Braai them right in the coals, adding more coals as necessary. Mine took about an hour, turning every 10 minutes or so. 

Go on, make a double batch. They’re very moreish. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer of the Year 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.

SUBSCRIBE: There’s much more from Tony Jackman and his food writing colleagues in his weekly TGIFood newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Saturday. Subscribe here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.


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