Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ready for Anything

Ready for its topping
I don't think I've ever eaten a baked potato in summer. It just seems wrong. However, when the weather grows colder, twice-baked potatoes are a staple in my house. I can enjoy them at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Usually, I make a whole bunch at one time, since they take over an hour to prepare. I use russets and begin by baking them in a 400 oven for just over an hour. While they are baking, I sprinkle some dried onion flakes into a small glass of milk--perhaps a quarter of a teaspoon of flakes to 1/4 cup of milk. When the potatoes are done, I cut them in half the long way and scoop out the centers, being careful to preserve the skins.

I put the flesh into a big bowl and throw in some sharp grated cheddar. After a few minutes, when the cheese has softened, I mash everything together with a fork, adding the milk after I've broken up the big lumps. Usually, I keep adding milk, since the potatoes absorb it. I end up with a texture a bit like soft-serve ice cream. At this point, I add salt and pepper.

I refill the potato skins and sprinkle them with a bit more grated cheddar. Then I put them on a baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes more, until the tops are browned slightly. Now they are ready to eat or cool down for freezing. These freeze remarkably well. I usually freeze them on the baking sheet until they're firm; then I toss them into a plastic bag.

If I'm eating these for breakfast, I usually add a dollop of cottage cheese. If I'm eating them for lunch or dinner, I usually top them with steamed spinach, broccoli, creamed chicken, chili, spaghetti sauce, or almost anything else that I have left over. Twice-baked potatoes plus a topping make satisfying and filling meals.

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