Loaded Potato Skins
When my oldest son, Calder, went off to college, I was a little nervous about how he would fare foodwise. My suspicions were realized by the first culinary report I got describing the previous night’s “amazing” dinner—take-out chicken wings and delivery pizza. I thought living off this type of food sounded disgusting but tried my best to understand his newfound habits—and I realized that even though college students can hardly be considered to have discriminating palates, they’re onto something. Familiar foods that make us happy transport us back to our earliest tastes of deliciousness, memories often associated with pleasure and peace. So I started making this sort of recipe whenever he came home, based on ingredients like chicken and potatoes. Needless to say, this potato-based dish is hedonistically delicious, and only an active someone the age of a college student could handle a steady diet of these calories.
- 6 large russet potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
- 6 slices bacon
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces Monterey jack cheese
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center position.
- Prick potatoes several times with a fork and bake until potatoes can be easily pierced with a toothpick, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop bacon and set aside.
- Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees.
- When cool enough to handle, halve potatoes lengthwise and scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4 inch flesh still attached to skins. Reserve scooped flesh for another use.
- Brush both sides of skins with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet skin side down and bake until crisp and golden, 10 minutes.
- Top with cheeses and bacon and return to oven 5 minutes more, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Garnish with sour cream and chives and serve immediately.
Note: Prick the potatoes in order to avoid a possible explosion. As I’ve learned the hard way, raw potatoes really have to be pricked before baking.