Thrice-baked potato skins for St. Patrick’s Day
TRUCKEE, Calif. — This holiday is always a confusing one for me, even when I really (really) try to participate.
I must admit, writing about potatoes during the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day stumps me. Consider this: In the 1840s, a disease virtually wiped out Europe’s potato crops. They labeled it the “Potato Blight” (yummy) and more than 1,000,000 Irish perished due to the demise of this beloved staple.
So here we are, centuries later, still fussing with potato recipes on St. Patrick’s Day, when, given this fickle root’s place in history known as “The Great Potato Famine,” wouldn’t you want to switch to, like, rice?
I was holding that thought until I ran into Kitty — Irish Catholic, phenomenal cook — who had a tiny book tucked under her arm, loaded with family recipes, many of which fall into the potato category.
She simply said, “You have to try these! The New England Patriots swear by them. But I changed them a little.”
Well, a Kitty-modified anything is worth a potato break down. So I bring you…
Kitty’s perfect, crispy, potato skins ingredients:
4 large Russet potatoes scrubbed clean
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated. Set aside 1/3 cup for topping.
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/4 lb. thick bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Poke your potatoes with the fork prongs about four times on different sides and bake for one hour or until tender. Remove from oven to cool, but increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half length-wise and scoop out some, but not all, of potato to use later in the recipe. Make sure to leave about 1/4 inch of potato in the baked skins.
Now, using a basting brush or clean paint brush, brush both sides of the potato with the melted butter and then season both sides with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Return skins to oven, skin side up, and bake for 10 minutes.
While the potatoes are re-baking, mix together your reserved, scooped-out baked potato, 2/3 cup of the cheese and the onions. Now remove the potatoes (you’re almost there!) fill the potatoes with your reserve mixture, and then top with your reserve of 1/3 cup cheddar cheese (make sure you pat it all down.
These are not fluffy twice-baked potatoes to go with your prime rib) and return filled and cheese topped potatoes to oven to broil — cheese side up — for five minutes.
Lastly, remove from oven and, while cheese is still hot, sprinkle on your bacon. Pat it down with the back of a large spoon. Perfect. A very moving St. Patrick’s Day offering so good we will all rush to our local grocer, buy every spud in sight, and kick off another potato famine.
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your favorite family recipes and the story behind them at firstname.lastname@example.org.