Herculean Strength

Twice-Baked Potatoes: (Almost) Fully Hands-off Dinner

In my opinion, the only way to have a baked potato is to have a twice-baked potato. The grainy, grittier starch of a Russet potato is transformed with the addition of sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon, and perhaps some ground beef.

Contrary to mainstream opinion, a good baked potato is a fantastically nutritious meal. They’re very nutrient-dense, full of vitamins and protein (believe it or not). While they are primarily a “carb”, their protein content is nearly complete; they contain almost every essential amino acid. The recipe below contains quite a bit of dairy and meat to supplement this profile, making this recipe a filling, healthy, and easy choice for dinner.

Prep in advance. These don’t require much effort, but the baking time is a little long (total about 1.5 hours). This isn’t a dish to decide on 15 minutes before you’re hungry.

Twice-Baked Potatoes (Serves 4)

Be sure to get started on these about 1.5 hours before you want to eat them. They require almost no hands-on time, but do take a while in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium Russet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 0.5 c. sour cream
  • 1.5 c. shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper, the better)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 0.25 lb. ground beef (optional)
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped chives or green onions, to taste

Equipment

  • baking sheet

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F, and place the oven rack at the middle setting.
  2. Poke the potatoes all over with a fork. You don’t have to stab deep holes; just poke them enough to break the skin and create a steam vent.
  3. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake for 1 hour. A paring knife should slide in and out easily.
  4. Meanwhile, cook your bacon until crispy. Do the same with the ground beef, if using. Shred your cheese as well.
  5. At the end of the hour, pull the potatoes out of the oven. Let them rest for about 5 minutes so you can handle them. Don’t turn off the oven.
  6. Holding onto the potato with a hot pad, slice the potato in half. Repeat for all potatoes. Put the potato shells onto a baking sheet.
  7. Carefully scoop out the flesh of the potato halves and put them into a large bowl. Don’t break the skin. You can leave about 1/8″-1/4″ of flesh inside the potato.
  8. Add the butter, sour cream, bacon bits, ground beef (if using) and salt/pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. A potato masher or potato blender is really helpful here, but a standard wooden spoon will do the trick as well with a little extra work.
  9. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells. It will be overflowing but stable. Mound it gently. Sprinkle a bit of extra cheese on the top.
  10. Put the baking sheet into the oven and bake the potatoes for another 15-20 minutes.
  11. Serve with a green salad.

Notes

If you want to try some variations, swap the cheddar cheese for blue cheese or any other kind of cheese you like. You can even get fancy and caramelize some onions while the potatoes are finishing their first bake, and mix that into the flesh before the second bake.

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