I think everyone should have a signature dish. Something that people can say "Oh, _______ makes the BEST ________". I didn't have one for a long time. I pretty much lived off of boxed dinners and my Mom's old recipes to get us by in the first few years of our marriage. Not that my family was complaining, it did us just fine. But then I started getting tired of it. (Watching the Food Channel a lot didn't help much either!) So I started searching for cool recipes and experimenting on my own. It was kind of a hit-and-miss process, but in the end I came out with some great stuff that my family LOVES.
One dish in particular was Twice Baked Potatoes. I had never heard of them before my hubby told me about it. He said his brother used to make twice baked potatoes for him and the rest of his siblings when they were growing up. He told me about the basic process of making them, and it sounded SO amazing that I decided to try my own version with stuff that I love in potatoes. And I came up with my signature dish.
Ever since I started making these, I have been doing it at LEAST twice a month (it is my favorite food in the world now, just FYI), and I have never ever had a single complaint about them. In fact, one of my extended family members wouldn't try them at first because he said he HATES sour cream, but he sucked it up and tried them one night when I made them and he said he was shocked because he loves them so much.
OK! Enough with the suspense. Here is the recipe for them, as well as an awesome tutorial.
Twice Baked Potatoes
Prep Time: About 30 minutes total
Cook Time: About 1 hour total
Makes 8 servings
8 medium Russet potatoes
8-16 oz sour cream
1/4 - 1/2 cup fancy shredded cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp butter or margarine
6 Tbsp real bacon bits/pieces
1. Lightly coat each potato in a small amount of olive oil and salt.
I normally put some salt and some olive oil in small dishes like these and then dip the ends of each potato in the olive oil and then coat it evenly with my hands. Just a small amount! Don't drench them, just make them slightly moist. Then repeat the process with the salt. Lightly coat them with your hands.
2. Place in oven directly on center rack for around 45 minutes, or until the potatoes feel tender.
I do it this way because I like to have a crispier shell. If you don't like it that way, you can always wrap them in foil before you stick them in the oven for a soft shell.
3. Remove from oven, place on a cookie sheet or other baking pan. Cut out tops of each potato and set aside.
When you're done with this step it should look something like this. (Excuse my horrible pizza pan. It's in desperate need of replacement.) You can also just cut off the whole top quarter of the potato and achieve basically the same result, but I like to cut big ovals in the tops like this because when it's done it makes it look like the potato is exploding right from the shell. =)
4. Use a spoon to scoop out all the flesh of each potato and place it into a large mixing bowl.
The potatoes should look similar to this when you are done scraping the insides out.
And the bowl will look similar to this.
Remember to scrape the flesh off the top of the potatoes that you cut off as well. Then you have little left-over "potato skins" that my family loves to eat as a little tiny appetizer. Here's Vincent stealing one of them here. Hehe.
I don't have a specific amount of the sour cream and cheese listed because you should really just keep adding it until it tastes how you want it to. Just make sure to keep some of that cheese off to the side, we are going to do something else with it later.
6. Use a potato masher to mash and mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
7. Transfer the new potato mixture back into the potato shells with a spoon.
Fill them all up evenly first.....
Then OVER-stuff them.
8. Sprinkle some of that leftover shredded cheese on top and gently pat down onto potato mixture.
9. Place in oven (still at 425) for another 10-15 minutes, or until top of cheese is golden brown and all inside potato mixture is re-heated.
That's it! They are done. In case you were wondering, I use fancy-shredded cheese specifically because it makes the cheese on top crispy. I like it that way. If you don't, you can feel free to use regular shredded cheese. It will come out more melty and gooey.
I usually eat the insides with a fork first, then pick up the shell and eat it with my hands. Sort of like soup in a bread bowl.
Or you can just be a crazy neanderthal like my son here and dig it out with your fingers.
So there you have it. This recipe is a no-brainer but it is freaking delicious. I have never had a twice baked potato at any restaurant that tastes better than mine. They are great for parties because you can very easily up the quantity of potatoes you make and the ingredients you use, and it looks fantastic when it's done. People will think you slaved away for hours. I have done a batch of 20+ potatoes for a large family get-together and it was really no harder than my regular batch of 8. Plus everyone loves it. Like I said, I have never had a complaint.
They are definitely not that great for you though. Especially since it's so hard to eat just one. Here's the nutrition info in case you were wondering about it.
Have fun creating your culinary masterpiece!! Let me know if you try it, I would love to hear your thoughts!