Saturday, February 4, 2012

Once. . . Twice . . .

Fee times a mayyyyydayy!  This may make no sense to you.  Lots of what I say and/or do makes no sense and I've come to accept that over the years.

Let me tell you what DOES make sense though - twice baking your potatoes!  Twice baked potatoes are hot, creamy, perfectly seasoned and they have the added bonus of looking like a lot of work.  So when you bring them out for your family, or for your dinner guests, and they say, "Wow, that must have been so much work," you should say, "Yes.  Yes it was.  And I'm not entirely sure you DESERVE it!"  Then shoot them resentful looks while you devour one if it's true, or laugh jocularly if it's not true and hope they know you're kidding.  In either scenario, it will place those you serve these to in your debt forever.

Twice Baked Potatoes

4 potatoes
4 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup cheddar cheese

Twice-baked potatoes have a formula to them; it's approximately 1 tablespoon butter and a scant 1/4 cup of cheddar per potato.  Less cheese and butter if you want.  The twice-baked potatoes police will not send a team into your kitchen and throw you to the floor if you deviate from the formula.  They're busy with other things.

The recipe I originally read when I learned how to make twice-baked potatoes said to rub the potatoes all over with a tablespoon of butter and then put ANOTHER tablespoon of butter in them.  Doing this gives the potato skin a nice crispy outside; it also means you've just eaten two tablespoons of butter with your potato.  I say, decide where your priorities are.

So anyway, preheat your oven to 450.  That's right!  I said 450, what of it??  If you really blast the potatoes, it crisps them up a bit on the outside; then you're going to lower the heat and cook them longer.  Decide what kind of aggression you want to release and either stab them with a fork or cut an "x" in them with a knife.  I like cutting a nice, neat "x" in mine.  Failing to do so may result in exploding potatoes in your oven. 

Put them in the 450 oven for around 20-25 minutes.  Then lower the heat to 375 and let them cook for another 15 minutes until they yield when you squeeze them (preferably while holding a potholder or wearing an oven mitt).  What does yield mean?  So when you squeeze them, it shouldn't feel like you're squeezing a rock wrapped in cotton balls.  It should feel as though if you released your mighty power, it would squish into nothingness in your hands.  Mwahahhaha! 

Gently and tenderly slice the tops off of the potatoes.  Scoop out the insides with a spoon and put in a bowl.  The first time you make these, you may tear the skins a little.  That's ok.  Forgive yourself.  That happens to everyone.  Put the butter in the bowl with the potato and mash the potatoes and butter together until they're creamy and blended.  Add cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  This is the time when you get to make them the way YOU like them.  Power to the people! 

Just as gently, put spoonsful of potato mixture (spoonsful or spoonfuls?  probably spoonfuls. I'll never live that one down.) back into the hollowed out skins.  You're going to have more filling than skin, so you can sort of mound it as though it is bursting with buttery, cheesy goodness right out of the potato.  Put them back in the oven to get browned.  I typically turn off my oven, and broil them on high for about 5 minutes until the edges are brown and there are delicious looking brown spots dotting the top. 

It doesn't sound delicious, but trust me on that one.

Then serve them with almost anything!  The only thing I could possibly think of that wouldn't go with these?  Tacos.  There.  Done. 

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