The Edible Peace Project, Part 5: Ghost Pepper Hasselback Potatoes

You say potato…

I…also…say potato.

These spicy hasselback ‘taters are as delicious as they are pleasing to the eye. Thin pieces of garlic hide in between the slices like zesty buried treasure. Pain mixes with pleasure ‘cuz these f*ckers are so hot, your lips will be begging for mercy. Serve them up as a piquant side dish for someone you’re sure can handle a little heat.

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My love affair with fire actually began later in life– just the tiniest hint of pepper used to make me squeamish but once I started to seek out dat spice, I never looked back. One time in my quest for the ever-elusive burnt tongue sensation, I found myself drawn to a hot sauce tasting bar while on a trip in New Orleans. I found a bottle called “One F*cking Drop.” I laughed and scoffed, “yeahhhh right,” as I put 2 drops on a piece of bread and stuffed it into my mouth. After several seconds of munching, the heat began to take hold. It spread over my body like a fever, flushing my face red and tingling all my appendages. Then the nausea hit, I doubled over in pain, and croaked to my mother that I needed some water. The woman behind the bar handed me a cup of milk and I sat down to wipe the sweat from my forehead. I couldn’t even walk home; we had to take a cab a measly 5 blocks, and when we got home I spent the rest of the evening vomiting.

So, when the next day I ordered Spicy Cajun Shrimp for dinner, I realized I had a problem. but YOLO, amiright?

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Ghost peppers are touted to be the hottest peppers in the world, they’re ~1,000,000 Scoville heat units (which measures spiciness). That’s about 400x hotter than a jalapeno and like 10x more fire than a habanero. Interestingly, a study done in 1980 calculated that eating around 3lbs of ghost peppers could easily kill off a 150-lb human. So like, careful on them potatoes mkay? Despite the fear I have probably just instilled in you, chili peppers are extremely healthy for you in moderate amounts. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chilies that makes them hot, has a wide range of health benefits. After intense burning, the body produces brain chemicals called endorphins that reduce the sensation of pain. An endorphin rush can cause a feeling of euphoria.

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Endorphins activate the body’s opiate receptors and make us feel g-o-o-o-o-o-od. These are the same guys responsible for that post-exercise high and they can actually squash depression. So, ya gotta feel the burn if ya wanna chill out. What’s more, capsaicin is used to fight inflammation in painful arthritis and psoriasis and research suggests it may help kill off prostate cancer cells. In terms of diet, this compound may help speed up our metabolic rate so we burn cals faster, suppress our appetite, and protect against the buildup of bad cholesterol. Come on errebody…spice up your life.

Ghost Pepper Hasselback Potatoes

Makes 4-5 servings

  • 1 lb small potatoes, such as Yukon Golds or Dutch Yellow
  • 1-2 T extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 T fresh rosemary, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ghost pepper sea salt (you can buy this online, or at a speciality spice store…if you can’t get it just sub another dried hot pepper or dried red pepper flakes and add sea salt, but like, it won’t be *as* hot)
  • black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. With a very sharp knife (preferably sharp enough to perform open heart surgery) slice each potato very thin, but not all the way down…so the potatoes fan out like an accordion.
  3. Slice garlic cloves length-wise, very thinly.
  4. In a skillet, pour 1 T olive oil or enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay potatoes flat (accordion side up) and stuff a couple pieces of garlic into a slit or two of each one. Drizzle the ‘taters with another glug of oil.
  5. Sprinkle the potatoes with a dash of ghost pepper sea salt (or other dried chili flakes and salt) and pepper.
  6. Bake for ~20 minutes and sprinkle with rosemary.
  7. Bake for another 10 or so minutes or until potatoes are golden brown on top and tender when pierced with a fork.  Check on them frequently, they make take more or less time depending on the size/thickness of the type of potato you’re using.
  8. E A T.

1 Comment

  1. Cory, this post is f*ucked up! First, it evokes those painful memories of watching my daughter writhe in pain on the floor of the New Orleans food market, with a few scraggly street musicians gathered around shaking their heads, yelling, “my tongue, my TONGUE!!!” I knew we should have gone to Cafe Du Monde instead. And second, you publicly advocate the human consumption of semi-mass quantities of capsaicin, which my husband’s doctor just prescribed in a cream form for a rash in order to burn it off of his skin. I’m not sure I can take this. But dang, those potatoes do look appetizing……(and I love you anyway).
    MamaBean

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