Baked potatoes have always seemed boring to me. When I was young, my little sister was obsessed with them and I always remember the dreaded day that her dinner request would be granted: “We’re going to Jason’s Deli tonight!” NOOOOOOO.
I really don’t know why I despised the deli, tucked away near the entrance to Brookwood Mall. Something about it was just bland and simple. We were paying for food that looked and tasted like it came from our own kitchen on a lazy Sunday, only there was no room for substitutions or picky eaters. Little effort was put into the flavor profiles, and as a vegetarian I felt trapped in a field of overdressed iceberg greens and crappy salad toppings. As it happens, the baked potato at Jason’s Deli was “fully loaded” and therefore not vegetarian friendly.
However, later in my life (probably at some catered banquet event), I was walking through a buffet line, warm plate in hand. One station in particular caught my eye. I have always loved mashed potatoes, and I have always loved cheese. Here was a magnificent sight: a perfectly oval, edible cup filled to the brim with mashed potatoes and baked to crisp perfection with melted cheddar cheese glistening at the top. I instantly went for the tongs and carefully chose the cheesiest, choicest potato. These were no ordinary baked potatoes. They were baked not once, but TWO times! This station came equipped with many toppings, so that each potato fit its owner’s preferences to a tee, and I was in a carb-lover’s heaven!
Since then, I have only ever had twice-baked potatoes at catered events. Really, I have no idea why. They are so easy to make, and if you’ve got picky eaters in your household, this is the perfect opportunity to let them create their own food.
For this recipe, I used fake bacon, because I do love having the smokiness in the potato. However, as every topping is optional, this dish could easily become vegan friendly.
The Fully Loaded, Twice-Baked Potato
makes four servings
2 Idaho potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
black paper to taste
2 green onions
3 slices sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices chopped, fake bacon (or real bacon, if you prefer)
First, preheat the oven to 400°F and prepare the potatoes for baking. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil, and scrub the potatoes clean under warm water. Using a fork, poke holes deep into the skin of the potato to allow for full cooking.
Rub olive oil over the potatoes, and sprinkle them generously with kosher salt.
Bake them for about an hour, and then carefully remove them from the oven. The olive oil will have created a deliciously crispy skin that makes for the perfect container for the potato filling!
Being careful not to burn yourself, slice the potatoes in half, longways, like so:
Using a spoon, scoop out the cooked potato into a large bowl.
Next, add the sour cream, butter, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Chop the green onions and add them into the bowl as well.
Mix everything together well with a spoon, breaking up the larger chunks of potato. Slice the cheese into little squares and mix half of it into the potato mixture.
Next, add in the crumbled bacon.
Mash everything together. The result should be a mixture that looks a lot like mashed potatoes.
Carefully, spoon the mixture into the empty potato shells.
Cover the tops generously with the remaining cheese. If you need to cut more cheese, feel free. With everything in this recipe it’s important to make sure that it’s made to your taste preferences! It is so easy to alter the saltiness or the cheesiness or the amount of onion a bit, and the result will still be delicious!
Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.
These potatoes can be eaten right away, or refrigerated for up to a week and then microwaved. They are still amazing even days later. However, you should not freeze them. The process of freezing alters the taste of green onions and the entire potato will be ruined!
Serve and enjoy!