Last evening we had friends over for dinner. It had been way too long since we entertained people other than family. We had a very nice evening, and the food was great. I made a nice entree and my favorite spinach salad and served the cranberry caramel bars and some freshly baked chocolate mint sandwich cookies, but do you know what stole the show? Potatoes. It never ceases to amaze me how the simple spud can make people silly for more.
There are no photos of the finished product and for that I apologize because they were the most beautiful twice baked potatoes I’ve ever made, but you see I’m just not comfortable photographing food with guests here. The food was hot, and I wanted to get it to the table without too much fuss or fanfare.
The recipe is from the Gourmet Cookbook and appears here. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cheddar-Garlic-Stuffed-Potatoes-106067
I’ll tell you what I did because I only followed the recipe as guide, and let’s face it. There are as many ways to make twice baked potatoes as there are cooks to make them.
First off, the recipe calls for 4 medium sized russets. I’m here to tell you that in my town there is no such thing. There are small russets and there are GIGANTIC russets. I felt that the gigantic russets would be easier to scoop out so I went with three of those. These super spuds took forever to bake. I have a convection oven so I put the vegetable oil rubbed potatoes directly on the racks and convection baked them at 400 degrees for an hour. After an hour they weren’t done and I needed to get the main course going so I upped the temp to 425 for 20 minutes. They still weren’t done. It was time to put the next dish in so I shoved them to the side reduced the convection oven temp to 325 and left them in for a very long time. It was ridiculous how long these giants took to bake. When I was able to poke them with a wooden skewer I took them out, and let them sit for 10 minutes or so until they were cool enough to handle. I cut the baked potatoes in half and scooped out the hot potato flesh leaving 1/2 to 3/8 inches of potato next to the skin. You need a little potato flesh in there so the potato skin is sturdy enough to handle and to hold the filling. The hot potato flesh went in a bowl with 3 tablespoons butter, and the cloves from one head of roasted garlic. I forgot to roast the garlic when I was baking the potato so I just microwaved my garlic for about a minute after chopping off about 1/4″ from the top. The garlic cloves will just slip out of their skins and you can easily mash them with a fork. Since I had those gigantic potatoes I used more sour cream than the 1/3 c. called for in the recipe. Honestly, really don’t know how much I used, but I would guess 1/2 c. or so. I dumped in most of an 8 oz. package of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the potatoes. I mashed the mixture along with a sprinkling of kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper. The filling went back into the scooped out potato skins and the remaining cheese was sprinkled on top. Then they went back into the convection oven for about 10 minutes at 425. I checked them frequently to make sure the cheese didn’t brown too fast at such a high temp. They turned out picture perfect.
You do not need a convection oven to make these, but since my potatoes were so ridiculously large I’m glad I had it to speed things along. These were very good and I would definitely make them again.