Friday, 30 December 2016

Stuffed Baked Potato with Bacon, Leek and Blue Cheese

Stuffed baked potatoes, or twice baked potatoes as we call them, are an easy, make ahead side for almost any meal, and can be adapted to whatever you have to stuff them with. I always use cheese of some kind, then make the rest up according to what is in the fridge.

This time I had three slices of bacon, a leek and some blue cheese...perfect to serve with the turkey meatloaf. When the potato is stuffed and baked the outside becomes golden and crisp, but the inside is moist and fluffy, and the little pockets of melting blue cheese are a pleasant surprise. A bit like mashed potato, but better!

Start off by scrubbing one small to medium russet potato per person. Prick the potatoes with a sharp knife and put into the oven to bake, at 400F, until the flesh is soft when squeezed. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 - 10 minutes; until the potatoes have cooled down enough that you can hold them.

Using a sharp knife, cut each potato in half, lengthwise.

Scoop the flesh out of the potato skins, being careful to save at least one skin for each person.

Place the scooped out potato flesh into a large bowl, and mash with a fork.

While the potatoes are baking, cook:

3 rashers of bacon, diced

When the bacon is cooked, but not yet crispy, add:

1/3 leek, diced

Season with salt and pepper and cook until the bacon is crispy and the leek is cooked and starting to crisp.

Remove the bacon and leek from the pan and drain on a piece of paper towel to remove any excess bacon fat. Set aside until needed.

Using a potato masher, mash the hot potato with:

salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter

Stir in:

the cooked bacon and leek
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Taste and adjust seasoning

Scoop the mashed potato back into the reserved potato skins, one per person.

Bake at 350F until the potato is golden and crisp on the outside, and hot in the middle.

This should take about 30 - 45 minutes, depending on how high the filling in your potatoes is.

Serve one potato skin per person, giving the potatoes about 5 minutes to cool slightly before serving. Remind people that the middle of the potato is hot...they retain the heat for a long time! Some people will use a fork or spoon to scoop out the inside, and then eat the skin (or not); others will pick the whole thing up and take bites out of it. Either way, these will be a hit.

  • This recipe was for two people. The potatoes were a medium size, so one each was good. 
  • If your potatoes are really large, allow half a potato per person. If they are small figure out how much you think will be enough per person. If I am making these I try and buy potaotes that are a good size for the dish.
  • The potatoes can be cooked in the microwave before scooping and stuffing; I find that baking them in the oven gives you a fluffier potato.
  • It is important to scoop and mash the potato while it is hot. Cold potato does not mash well...lumps will not mash out, and it can become gluey. The best way to do this is to hold the potato half in a towel to avoid burning your hand while you scoop the flesh out.
  • The potatoes can be baked, scooped, mashed and stuffed a day ahead.
  • Sweet potatoes or yams can be used if you prefer.
  • Other things to consider adding to your stuffed potatoes include: chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, rosemary; minced green onion or caramelized onion; chili flakes; chopped ham, crumbled sausage or cooked chicken; blanched broccoli or cauliflower; sour cream or whipping cream; corn; roasted garlic; aged cheddar, Parmesan, asiago, goat cheese or brie.
  • Depending on what you stuff these with, and how big you make them, stuffed potatoes can be a side dish or a meal...add a salad and you are good to go.

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