Thursday, July 14, 2011

Twice baked and smothered; now that's a potato!

Potatoes are a versatile root vegetable; they can be eaten alone and in so many ways: mashed, boiled, fried, steamed, baked, au gratin, get the idea. They can also be combined with other vegetables for a medley or with a protein (beef, chicken, pork) in a stew or casserole. Twice baked potatoes (baked potatoes, insides scooped out, combined with other ingredients, returned to the skins and baked again) usually have some mixture of cheese, sometimes bacon, in them.

I have never tried making twice baked potatoes from scratch before. I have tried the ones sold in the freezer section of the supermarket, and they are usually pretty disgusting; no matter the brand. The skins are tough and the insides are dry and tasteless. I gave myself the challenge and believe I have won with this recipe.

Twice Baked Smothered Potatoes
4 large baking potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup each diced green and red bell peppers, diced onions
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp each sour cream and warmed milk
1 cup cheese mixture (equal parts shredded cheddar and Swiss and crumbled goat cheese)
 ½ tsp each salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup crumbled bacon
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 450F.  Wash potatoes; make ¼” deep incision down center length of each potato, wrap in aluminum foil and bake in oven for one hour.  Remove potatoes and let cool until they can be easily handled, but are still warm.  
While potatoes are cooling, melt butter, on medium heat, in small skillet; sauté bell peppers, onion and garlic until just beginning to soften; set aside.
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise (use ¼” incision as a guide); scoop out insides, but leave a ¼” layer against the skin.  Place potato insides in a large bowl; add in sautéed vegetables and other ingredients.  Mix together thoroughly; mixture will be chunky; if a smoother filling is desired, mash the insides with the sour cream and warmed milk first, then add remaining ingredients.
Fill the potato skins and place in a 3 qt rectangular baking dish; place back in 450F oven for 15-20 minutes; until tops are browned. **
Makes 8 servings.
**Option: instead of filling potato skins, spoon mixture into buttered 2 qt baking dish, bake as instructed and serve as a side dish.

Mary Cokenour