Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Twice Baked Potatoes

Pin It
Brian and I had a gathering last night, so I decided to do something with the sack of potatoes that was sitting in the pantry. I shredded a bunch of cheddar cheese, cooked up some bacon, and got out a stick (or two) of butter, some salt and pepper. Sometimes I add fresh chives to them as well, but it was rainy, and I wasn't up to checking the garden to see if any were sprouting. (Often I have chives year-round.)

I rely so much on recipes. I've said before, I am not a "throw in a little of this, a little of that, to taste...." type of cook. I like a little more guidance, if not precision in what to do. But with this recipe, I'm loosening up, and relying completely on taste. The only way you can do wrong is to add too much salt and pepper. And, if you do that, just get a few more potatoes, and balance it all out.

The end result is pure heaven. Cheesy potato-ey goodness.

Here's what I do:

Twice Baked Potatoes

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

2. Scrub a bunch of potatoes. (I do a whole bag, freezing a bunch of them for later.) Use a fork to pierce each potato. For the really large potatoes, I pierce twice. I'm not sure if this is necessary or total over-kill, but I've never had a potato explosion in the oven, so I'll keep on pokin'.

3. Place the potatoes directly on the oven racks. I put the larger ones in back, as I'll be taking the smaller ones out first. Set the timer for 45 minutes (to check on them).

4. While they're baking, cook up a pound or so of bacon, and a pound or so of cheddar cheese.

5. Take them out of the oven. How to tell if they're done? A fork will be able to easily pierce right into the middle. Obviously, the smaller ones will be done sooner, so keep checking and poking them as needed. The "done" ones will also have a little bit of potato guck bubbling outside the skin where you first pierced them.

6. Place a sliced up stick of butter and some cheese in a large bowl.

7. Once they're done, place them on a baking rack to cool slightly. Slice the potatoes in half, and scoop out the insides. Make sure you don't scoop too much, or you'll tear the potato skin. It's better to leave a little more potato as a lining, than to cut too close to the skin. Though hotter to handle, I find it's easier to cut them in half, and scoop out the insides when they are pretty warm. Cold potato insides take a bit more "umph" to scoop out. So I grab a pot holder (love these little silicone ones by KitchenAid), and scoop away, putting the potato on top of the butter and cheese. The hot potatoes will soften the butter. To aid in scooping I use a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges.

8. Add some crumbled up bacon, some salt and pepper. Mash up until thoroughly mixed. I don't make mine smooth and creamy, though you can if you like. I have little potato lumps in mine...more rustic I guess.

9. Taste. Add more cheese, bacon, salt, pepper...whatever you think it needs. When you're happy with the taste, the fun begins!

10. Get out a pan. If you're making these for a gathering within 48 hours, put them in a 9 x 13" baking pan (or whatever size you doesn't really matter). If you're going to be freezing them, I'd suggest a jelly-roll pan for flash-freezing/vacuum packing.

11. Put the filling back into the potato skins. Make little raised mounds on top. Fill up your pan.

12. To cook: These can be kept in the fridge for a day or so. When cooking, place in an oven pre-heated to 450 degrees. Bake uncovered until the filling is heated all the way through and the potato skins are once again crisp. It takes about 20-30 minutes. As long as you don't burn them, they'll be great!

If frozen, defrost them, and bake as described above. When I freeze them, I will usually make just a few at at time from the bag. I defrost in the microwave, and then put them in the oven to finish them. The hot oven crisps up the skin.

They take a little bit of time. But it's one of those things where you can make a bag full of potatoes nearly as quickly as a few potatoes. So why not make them in a larger quantity and freeze some for later?!

No comments: