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Twice baked potatoes are double good for all

Today’s Special

For our Memorial Day we swam, the cousins played, Zachary and James kept the peace, DW grilled, the DILs visited, baby Hudson smiled and watched, and we all ate like we were starving (twice).

Now they’re all gone home, DW’ s finishing up the dishes and I’m about to recommend twice baked potatoes for your next cookout. There’s not much that doesn’t go with twice baked potatoes, probably nothing actually.  I scrubbed, baked, mashed, whipped and stuffed potatoes and placed them in the refrigerator earlier so as to have less to do on Monday.

All they needed was baking and a topping of grated cheese. Spending time getting things ready ahead of time is time well spent like having time to visit with family and play with the grandbabies on a holiday weekend.

For baking: scrub potatoes clean and pat dry.  For softer skins rub them with shortening but for crisper shells leave it off. Prick each potato with a fork a few times to allow the steam to escape. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 1 hour, depending on the size of the potato.  I use baking nails in larger potatoes to reduce cooking time which works because the aluminum nail conducts heat to the center of the potato making it cook faster.  And, I don’t use shortening on mine.  I like for the skins to stay rather firm so they will hold their shape better and hold the stuffing in place.  (And for the same reason I don’t recommend microwave potatoes for twice baking.)

For tried and true twice baked potatoes: bake 2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4) until done.  Cut a thin slice from the top of each potato (if the potatoes are larger cut them in half longways.) Scoop out the inside (a grapefruit spoon forks perfectly) leaving a thin shell. Mash the potato pulp until no lumps remain and add ¼ cup butter or margarine while it’s still warm.  Stir in about ¼ – ⅓ cup milk in small amounts, beating after each addition until smooth and creamy.  Stir in about ½ teaspoon salt, a dash of black pepper, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried chives; then blend in ½ cup sour cream.  Fill the shells with the mashed potato mixture.  Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake about 25 minutes until heated thoroughly and the cheese is melted.  You can omit the dried chives and serve the potatoes with chopped fresh chives or green onions sprinkled over the top.  And you can also top them with chopped bacon and omit the sour cream if you prefer. There are many ways stuff a potato.

Not exactly twice baked but doubly as good are foil-grilled potatoes. And you might as well if you have the grill fired up. Scrub medium sized white baking potatoes or sweet potatoes and rub the skins with olive oil or butter. Wrap each potato tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil.  Place on grill about 3 inches from heat source or directly on the hot coals; cook about 1 hour turning at least twice during cooking time and cook for 45 – 60 minutes.  They are done when soft to the touch (fingers protected from heat please!). To serve: gently mash each potato then make crosswise slits through the foil and into the potato; fold back foil and squeeze until the cooked potato “pops” up through the opening.  Top with butter salt and pepper or any of your favorite potato toppings.

The only thing you might need to add to a menu of grilled meats and twice-baked potatoes is a sliced homegrown tomato! Eat well!

Recipe of the Week

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Basil and Sour Cream

Read directions carefully for this actual thrice-baked potato!

8 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

½ cup milk

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup sour cream

Bake potatoes in 400 degree-oven until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, halve each potato lengthwise, leaving ¼” thick shells. Scoop potato pulp into a 3-quart pan. Mash with potato masher with 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in milk and salt and pepper. Set aside. Return potato shells to baking sheet and brush insides with other 2 tablespoons butter, season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden about 20 minutes. Meanwhile cut basil into thin strips, stir about ¾ of the strips into the warm mashed potatoes.  Spoon mashed potato mixture into baked shells and bake until thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes. Top each half with 1 ½ teaspoons sour cream and a strip or two of the remaining basil to serve.