Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Twice-Baked Potatoes

I need to take better pictures. Yes, I am limited by the capability of my camera, lack of counter space to display the food and the abysmal lighting in my kitchen. But I also haven't been trying hard lately. I do enjoy taking pictures of the food I cook. It's just that lately I've been busy and I haven't taken the time to get really nice shots. I promise I'll try harder in the future.

This dinner decision was born out of the desire to get rid of the pile of potatoes sitting in my basement. They needed to be cooked before they turned into a basement potato garden. Fortunately, necessity was the mother of deliciousness. I was able to take Jeff with me to Whole Foods last weekend and he convinced me to get bacon from the butcher counter, rather than the refrigerated case. Excellent decision. The bacon is local - from Simply Grazin', an organic farm in Skillman. This is hands down the best bacon I've ever had. I'm not just saying that because I haven't had bacon since early March - it was amazing. The slices were very thick and the flavor is intense. I think it was a bit lost on this dish, since the bacon is mixed into the filling - you can easily eat it without tasting it. I think if we'd put the bacon on top instead it would have helped us get its full flavor.

One of the things that makes this dish is the salt - the potatoes are rubbed with olive oil and kosher salt before baking. I don't think regular salt would be quite the same. The kosher salt manages to pack a punch with every bite - since it's all over the outside, you can't miss it. It brings me back to my high school days, when I used to go to a restaurant and order potato skins as my meal. Hopefully this is slightly less fattening (since it's not fried) while still incorporating everything that made those potato skins so great.

Twice-Baked Potatoes
From justJENN recipes.

6 russet potatoes
4 slices bacon (2, if you're using the thick kind like we did)
1/2 c shredded cheddar + extra (for sprinkling on top)
1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c milk
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt + extra (for rubbing potatoes)
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Wash the potatoes and dry well, then rub with olive oil and kosher salt. Place on the rack and bake for 1 hour. Let cool about 10 minutes before continuing. Meanwhile, fry the bacon and crumble.

When the potatoes are cool, slice each one in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside, leaving a little of the flesh around the edges (I used a melon baller for this part).

Combine the potato filling with the bacon (you could set a little aside to sprinkle on top - we neglected that), cheese, sour cream, milk, butter, salt and pepper. Mash until combined.

Fill the potato halves with the filling, then sprinkle with extra cheese and bacon. Return to the oven for 15 minutes.

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