As much as we love the simplicity and honest goodness of a plain baked potato, there are times when we can't resist fiddling. This is where twice-baked potatoes come in. By baking russets a bit in advance, scooping out the insides, and adding all sorts of things before stuffing the filling back into the jacket, we make something altogether more than the sum of its parts. There are a lot of advantages to twice-baked potatoes, not the least being that they can be assembled a day or two in advance and pulled out of the refrigerator for a quick weeknight supper or a winter weekend brunch. You can make these potatoes as simple or fancy as you like, and kids love them.
Select russets that are all about the same size. We like 3/4-pound ones because they're large enough to hold a good amount of mashed potato filling, but not too large for an ordinary appetite to manage. After baking, slice off the top lengthwise to form a sort of boat. For smaller portions, to serve as a side dish, or if the potatoes are enormous, you may want to slice them in half lengthwise and make two servings from each potato.
While the potatoes are still warm, scoop out the flesh. Use a tablespoon to do this, and be careful to leave enough flesh so that the jacket doesn't collapse. Mash the flesh with a hand masher, a ricer, or even just ~ fork. And now, here's where the fun comes in: enrich and season the potatoes as you would mashed potatoes.
We generally add warm milk or cream (no more than 4 teaspoons per potato), a bit of softened butter, maybe some sour cream or yogurt, and cheese. You want a consistency that is just a bit stiffer than most mashed potatoes. If you make it too soft, the filling will tend to overflow when you rebake the potatoes.
Once you have your basic mash, you can add any range of flavorings: crumbled bacon, chopped ham, fresh crabmeat, smoked fish, stewed mushrooms, sautéed fennel, caramelized onions, steamed vegetables, pesto, olives, capers, horseradish, herbs, spices. Scan through the chapter on mashed potatoes for ideas.
Spoon the filling into the potato skins without compacting it too much. Mound it up and top with bits of butter or grated cheese. Bake the potatoes in a moderate oven until they are heated through and browned on top.
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One Potato, Two Potato
300 Recipes from Simple to Elegant—Appetizers,
Main Dishes, Side Dishes, and More
by Roy Finamore with Molly Stevens
Houghton Mifflin Books
Publication date: October, 2001
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created January 2002
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