Twice Baked Potatoes with Bacon and Cheddar

February 18, 2013

The Twice Baked Potato, much like creamed spinach, is a steakhouse classic.  And for potato lovers, it's no wonder as it combines creamy mashed potatoes with crispy potato skins.  Toss on some cheddar cheese, bacon and chives, and this is a solid side dish to a big meaty steak.

Twice Baked Potatoes with Bacon, Cheddar and Chives
Twice Baked Potatoes with Bacon, Cheddar and Chives

Given how delicious they are, I'm not sure why I don't make these more often.  The thing is, they've just never crossed my mind.  I was looking for some ideas for a side dish recently, glancing at recipes in the Cuisinart Food Processor manual, when I saw a page for Twice Baked Potatoes.

Interesting, I thought....not only that the recipe was in a food processor manual, but that I've never actually made Twice Baked Potatoes.  I wound up using their general approach, but opted not to make anything in the food processor itself.  The last time I used it the Cuisinart on potatoes, I wound up with something closer to Rubber Cement.

Keep in mind that with the classic approach, these will take a good 2 hours minutes to make.  You could trim a good 30 minutes out of that though if you partially cook the potatoes first in the microwave.  I might try that next time, but I'm suspicious of being able to still get the super crispy potato skins that are so delicious.

Not once...twice

There are two key cooking stages in the process: which you can easily break apart into do-ahead and game-day phases.  The first phase involves baking the potatoes, cutting them open and scooping out insides for mashing.  The second phase is where the mashed potatoes go back in the skins and they actually become the Twice Baked.

For the first phase, here's where you get a chance to make some seriously over-the-top-rich mashed potatoest.  I used whole milk (with a toddler, we always have plenty), butter and grated parmesan with the potatoes.  Since you're working with a small amount, it's easy to tweak and increase amounts to get it just right.

For some serious garlic flavor, you can go in two different directions.  The most common is to roast the garlic cloves in the oven along with the potatoes, and then mash them in.  However, I like a bigger, bolder garlic flavor so I use raw crushed garlic instead.  And lots of it.

After you make the mashed potatoes, you'll fill the skins and they'll go back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes (depends on if they were in the refrigerator overnight).  If you'll be topping the potatoes before plating, and those toppings include cheese, I'd suggest giving them an extra minute in the oven so the cheese melts a bit.  Otherwise you could be super fancy like those martini glass mashed potato bars and let your guests choose from a wide variety of appealing toppings.

Twice Baked Potato Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Servings: 4

  • 4 Russet Potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk (or anything from almond milk to heavy cream)
  • 1 Teaspoon Chives
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Teaspoons Parmesan cheese (grated)

First Baked Potatoes

This is the traditional baked potato.   Start by giving the potatoes a nice coating of olive oil (not extra virgin, the heat is too high in the oven and it will smoke) and liberal coating of salt.  Cook them for about 1 hour.
After they've cooled enough to handle, use a paring knife to slice off the top and scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl

Top of a potato removed after the first baking
Top of a potato removed after the first baking

Give the potatoes a good mash and begin working in the milk and butter with salt and pepper.  Now, keep in mind that this is just a starting point for amounts and suggestions for ingredients.  You may want a lot more butter, or maybe you prefer sour cream instead.  Finally, add in the garlic, parmesan and chives.

Mashed potato placed back into the baked potato skin
Mashed potato placed back into the baked potato skin

Fill your empty potato skins back up with the tasty mashed potatoes and you're ready to move on to the second phase.  If you're doing this ahead of time, you could now wrap them up and place them in the refrigerator.

Twice Baked Potatoes

With your oven still at 400, place the potatoes back in for 20 to 30 minutes to complete the second baking.  At the end, you can do a couple of things to amp up the presentation.  One is to expose the potatoes to a broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the tops.  Second, is to go ahead and place your toppings on now an allow the cheese to melt slightly and warm the toppings.  


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