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Twice Baked Potatoes

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Why bake a boring ole potato once when you can bake it twice and make it spectacular?  My Twice Baked Potatoes are loaded with not only butter and sour cream, but bacon and cheese.  I know, I know, not exactly keeping with those New Year’s resolutions right? But, it’s Championship weekend people, I’m still in “football food” mode.

These Twice Baked Potatoes are flavorful, they are packed with everything you love so there is no muss at game time and the best part is you can eat them with a fork and a knife or just pick um right up and you have a perfect finger food.  And I’m not even going to try to pretend they are healthy, but they aren’t fried and they are even gluten-free.  So, they aren’t the worst thing in the world health-wise either!

Make them in a big batch like I have for a party or tailgating or make a smaller batch for dinner.  Or you can do like I did and make the big batch, have them for the party and freeze the rest so you have them right at your fingertips whenever you are looking for an easy side, they freeze great!  Baking potatoes the old-fashioned way is not a quick process, so making a big batch is always the way to go in my opinion.  Here’s how I do them…

So, I use my double burner griddle for this project. Pampered Chef sells a great one, talk about cutting down on time and energy!

So, I use my double burner griddle for this project. Pampered Chef sells a great one, talk about cutting down on time and energy!

I always start off with preparing the bacon, mostly because when I make bacon, I like to make the entire package and we don’t need the entire package for this recipe, so I make breakfast in the morning and then I reserve the rest of the bacon for the recipe. Call me crazy, but it saves me time. In any case, you will need 8 slices of bacon for this recipe.

The problem is when an entire package of bacon is hanging around, it needs to be covered in my house otherwise it will dwindle throughout the morning if it’s not hidden!

Then I gather my potatoes, I like russet potatoes for baking. I try to find the ones that are oval in shape as opposed to round and med/large for variety.

Russets come dirty, so be sure to give them a good scrub, you will be eating the skin on these.

I like to bake them whole, but I like to half split them for ease in cooking time.

I like to make these in a disposable aluminum tray for a couple of reasons. First I am making a bunch here, so I am not wrapping each one in aluminum foil. This tray mimics that. Also, because this makes for easy clean up.

I like to then add a good pinch of salt to each one. We did not dry these, so they should still be wet helping the salt to cling. If you pre-washed or something, then just run them each under water for this effect.

Now turn them all over and do the same thing to the other side. A good pinch of kosher salt to each. It may seem like a lot, but you are really just seasoning the skin of the potato which is very important.

Cover tightly in aluminum foil and bake at 400°F for 1 hour and 45 minutes or so.

Now spit them using your original cut as the guide.

You will have twice the amount at this point which will require a second tray. Be sure to salt the bottom of that tray again.

Scoop out the middles of each potato leaving a reservoir for the filling and a good “wall” all the way around.

Add in your scooped out fillings to a bowl.

Add in a stick of salted butter. Remember you are making 16 twice baked potatoes, that spreads that butter out. Besides, it’s football food. If your potatoes are not hot because you chose not to scald your fingers as you handled the potatoes, just pop this in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

Start to go at it with a potato masher.

Get some good fresh sour cream.

Add in sour cream.

Add in cheese.

Add in kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Now, back to the bacon. It survived! Yay!

Chop it up pretty well still allowing for some good size chuncks.

Add to your bowl.

But reserve some for topping.

Mash mash mash.

Add in some half and half or heavy cream, whichever you have on hand.

Now fill each of your potatoes with a healthy amount. Be sure to spread it evenly though.

Once they are all filled, pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

Add a good bunch of cheese to top each.

Then top that with bacon bits.

Bake for about 1/2 hour until they are heated through and the cheese is all melty!

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Twice Baked Potatoes

Serves 8-16

Ingredients:

8 med/lg. Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 stick salted butter

8 slices bacon, fried and drained and chopped, divided

3/4 cup sour cream, plus more for serving

kosher salt to taste

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

water-soaked minced onions or chives for serving (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.  Scrub potatoes clean and while still wet, carefully slice into potato lengthwise about 3/4 of the way through as though you were going to split them for stuffing (see photo above).  Salt the outside of the wet potato with kosher salt on all sides and place in aluminum pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove from oven and turn oven down to 350°F if baking immediately.

Let cool just long enough for handling. Continue cutting potato along the original cut line spitting the potatoes in half.  Now, scoop out the middle flesh of the potato leaving about a 1/4 inch wall along the entire outer potato skin (this provides stability, see photo above).  Place the scooped out potato flesh in a bowl for mixing.  Add in butter, sour cream, 1 cup of shredded cheese,  3/4 of your bacon, a good pinch of salt and about 10 cracks of black pepper. Mash all ingredients together with a potato masher (warm for a minute in the microwave if the contents are not warm enough to melt the butter and incorporate all the ingredients at this point.)

Now, fill each potato cavity with the mixture.  Top with an additional Tablespoon or so on each along with a few remaining bacon bits.  Bake until heated through and melty for about 1/2 hour.  Serve with sour cream and [instructions]

water-soaked minced onions or chives.  Enjoy![/instructions]

*note-  This is a gluten-free recipe.