Potatoes are wonderful in that they are open to a multitude of flavor additions and cooking methods. Here are two family favorites, both well worth
the extra effort.
Do not allow the potatoes to cool completely before cutting. The flesh will become gummy.
See great flavor combinations for twice-baked potatoes below
Twice Baked Potatoes
These rich potatoes are made even better with the addition of sauteed minced garlic and/or crisped and crumbled bacon, prosciutto or pancetta for mixing into the potato mixture.
6 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
2-3 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing potato shells
Kosher or sea salt or to taste
6 ounces plain or flavored soft-cheese, such as Boursin
1/2 cup half-and-half, more or less for desired texture
3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
Black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°. Bake potatoes 50-60 minutes. Cool slightly.
Carefully slice off the top quarter of each potato. Scoop out the flesh of each potato into a large bowl. Set aside. Be very careful to leave a 1/4 inch layer of potato on the inner surface to form the shell. Brush each shell inside and out with the melted butter and sprinkle the insides with salt.
Raise the heat of the oven to 475°. Place the buttered potato shells on a wire rack and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the shells are slightly browned and crisped.
Meanwhile, press the potato flesh through a ricer or food mill. Alternatively, mash with a fork or potato masher until as smooth as possible. If potatoes have cooled, heat until just warm. Gently fold in the half-half, soft cheese, butter and salt and pepper until well combined.
Remove the potato shells from the oven and fill them with the potato-cheese mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, or until warmed through and golden brown on top.
Twice Baked Potatoes
4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed, dried and lightly rubbed with vegetable oil
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, or your favorite variety
1/2 cup sour cream, regular or fat-free
1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Bake potatoes until tender and skin is crisp, about 1 hour. Let cool on wire rack, about 10 minutes. Using an oven mitt, cut
each potato in half lengthwise.
Using a small spoon, scoop out the warm potato flesh from each half into a bowl, leaving a 1/4 inch border of flesh in each shell. Season with salt and return prepared shells to the oven to crisp slightly and maintain a firm texture, about 5 minutes
Meanwhile, mash potato flesh with the remaining ingredients until well combined and smooth. Remove shells from oven and set to broil.
Spoon mixture into the shells, mounding slightly. Broil until browned in places and heated throughout, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, bake in a 350F
oven for about 15 minutes.
Baked Potato Soup
Serves 4-6 for a main course
4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour, all purpose
1-1/2 quarts milk
Salt and pepper to taste
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup light sour cream
2 cups crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled
5-ounces grated cheddar cheese
Hot sauce or ground red pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350F and bake the potatoes until fork tender. Melt butter
in a medium saucepan. Slowly blend in flour with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended. Gradually add milk to the butter flour mixture, whisking
constantly. Whisk in salt and pepper and simmer over low heat, stirring
Cut potatoes in half, scoop out the flesh and set aside. When milk mixture is very hot, whisk in potato and green onion. Whisk well, add sour cream and crumbled bacon. Heat thoroughly. Add cheese a little at a time until it is completely melted. Add hot sauce or red pepper to taste