Magazine

Cooking

Recipes for sinful twice-baked potatoes

Embellishing them with flavorful fillings only makes them better.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Basic twice-baked potatoes.

A simple baked potato with butter and sour cream is a treat. But scoop out the innards, mix them with aromatics, cheese, and other flavorings, fill the empty skins with your glorious concoction, and bake them a second time until skin and stuffing are piping hot, and you have yourself a proper splurge. These twice-baked potatoes work as a rich side dish to a roast or as the center of a meatless dinner.

Here, I love a good melting cheese with a distinct character, such as Manchego or Basque (sometimes called Petit Basque, Mini Basque, or brebis), both made of sheep’s milk, or Double Gloucester, which is slightly tangier. Sharp cheddar is also a popular choice.

BASIC TWICE-BAKED POTATOES

Serves 4 or 6

Advertisement

For this recipe, you can use either 6 8-ounce potatoes or 4 12-ounce potatoes, which make really hefty servings, better suited as the center of a light dinner.

If you have extra filling mixture, bake it in a buttered ramekin alongside the potatoes. The good idea of buttering and toasting the potato shells before filling them comes from Cook’s Country magazine.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

6 medium (about 8 ounces each) or 4 large (about 12 ounces each) russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried

2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon melted

Salt and pepper

Advertisement

½ cup minced shallots (about 2 medium)

1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme

4 teaspoons minced or grated garlic (about 5 medium cloves)

¼ cup half-and-half

½ cup whipped cream cheese

1 cup grated Manchego, Basque, or Double Gloucester cheese

1/3 cup thinly sliced scallion greens (about 2 large)

1½ tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

Prick the potatoes in several spots and microwave on high, until tender (a skewer meets little resistance), about 18 minutes (depending on the size of the potatoes and the power of the microwave), turning them over about halfway through. Slicing the long way, remove the top third of each potato and, when cool, scoop out the flesh (from both pieces of each potato), leaving ¼-inch layer of potato inside the larger shells (you should have about a generous 4 cups potato flesh); discard or snack on the smaller pieces of potato shells.

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack on the sheet. Lightly brush the potato shells inside and out with melted butter and sprinkle the interiors generously with salt and pepper. Set the shells, open sides down, on the rack and bake until skins begin to crisp, about 22 minutes (leave the oven on).

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter until melted and hot. Add the shallots, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, until just softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring and scraping pan, until fragrant, about 2 minutes longer. Off heat, add the half-and-half and scrape the pan to loosen the fond. Add the cream cheese and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Set a potato ricer over the saucepan and rice the potato flesh into it (alternatively, add the potato to the pan and mash it to the texture you desire). Add „ cup of the grated cheese, the scallion greens and basil, and most of the parsley, and stir until the mixture is well incorporated and uniform. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

Mound the crisped shells with potato mixture. Top with remaining grated cheese and bake until tops of potatoes are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve hot.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP: A wire cooling rack set in the baking sheet allows air to circulate around the potato shells in the oven, helping them to crisp.

VARIATIONS

> Twice-Baked Potatoes With Feta and Olives

Serves 6

Follow the directions for the Basic Twice-Baked Potatoes, making the following changes:

1) Substitute 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for the 1 tablespoon melted butter used to brush the potato shells and decrease the baking time of the empty potato shells to 15 to 18 minutes.

2) Substitute 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for the 1 tablespoon of butter used to saute the shallots, thyme, and garlic.

3) Omit the grated cheese and substitute 2/3 cup finely crumbled feta cheese and ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped. Reserve about ¼ cup of the feta to sprinkle over the filled potatoes before they bake.

4) Substitute ‚ cup roughly chopped fresh dill for the basil and parsley.

> Twice-Baked Potatoes With Smoked Oysters and Paprika

Serves 6

Either smoked oysters or smoked mussels work well here. In the supermarket, you can buy both in 3- to 4-ounce tins, packed in oil. Six-ounce containers of plumper specimens from smaller domestic producers, such as Ducktrap River of Maine, may also be available.

Follow the directions for the Basic Twice-Baked Potatoes, making the following changes:

1) Substitute 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for the 1 tablespoon melted butter used to brush the potato shells and decrease the baking time of the empty potato shells to 15 to 18 minutes.

2) Substitute 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for the 1 tablespoon of butter used to saute the shallots, thyme, and garlic.

3) Increase the minced shallots to 1 cup. Increase the initial sauteing time of the shallots and thyme to 4 minutes. Along with the garlic, add 2 teaspoons paprika.

4) Omit the grated cheese and substitute 6 to 8 ounces of smoked oysters or mussels, drained and chopped if necessary, mixing it all into the potato filling. Omit the basil.

Adam Ried appears regularly on America’s Test Kitchen. Send comments to cooking@globe.com.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.