I’ve always found these to be crowd pleasers, whether I’m making dinner for a group of friends or for my wife and our three boys. The potatoes are terrific alongside grilled steak or any other meat, and they can be prepared up to a day ahead of time and refrigerated before the second baking. I like Irish Cheddar with them, but any other Cheddar would be delicious, or even feta or goat cheese. Have fun with it!–Rick Tramonto
LC Luck of the Irish Note
Of the many, many reasons why we swoon to these stuffed spuds, one stands out. The fact that they call for Irish Cheddar has quite a lot to do with it. For those unfamiliar with its subtle charms, Irish Cheddar tends to be less tangy than the Cheddar made elsewhere, with faintly sweet notes and, according to Murray’s, one of Manhattan’s finest purveyors of cheese, an “unusually sweet and fruited flavor.” It’s a subtle sweetness that also boasts a little nuttiness as well, sort of like your favorite spinster aunt. Whatever portion doesn’t end up in the potatoes ought to be savored alongside a pint of stout.
Can I Freeze It? Note: Yup. Kim Venglar, one of our trusted LC Recipe Testers, says she “always has twice-baked potatoes in my freezer ready to cook.” So we asked her advice. After you stuff the spuds but before you bake them a second time, she says, toss the stuffed spuds in a resealable plastic bag and freeze ‘em for up to 3 months. You can either defrost the potatoes overnight in the fridge and then bake them at 350°F (176°C) for 45 minutes or so, or you can bake them straight from the freezer at 350°F (176°C) for an hour or so, covering them with foil for the first 45 minutes. Potatoes, pronto!
Oh, and be sure to omit the green onions, Kim notes, as “they do really nasty things in the freezer and give the potatoes a funky flavor.” Yikes. We certainly don’t want that! Instead, she says, sprinkle sliced scallions over the potatoes after taking them out of the oven.
Twice-Baked Potatoes with Irish Cheddar Recipe
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes | Serves 4 to 8
- 4 large russet potatoes (about 1 pound each)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Irish Cheddar cheese or your favorite Cheddar (about 7 ounces)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts (about 2 scallions)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions or chives
- 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C) . Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- 2. Scrub the potatoes under cold, running water, pat dry, and rub with the olive oil. Pierce each potato several times with a fork and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, until fork-tender. If the potatoes are whoppingly large, they may need a little more time.
- 3. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside just until they’re cool enough to handle. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C).
- 4. Cut each potato lengthwise in half, taking care to keep the skins intact. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the skins, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato on the inside, into a large bowl. Force the potato flesh through a ricer or the medium disk of a food mill, or mash the potato really well with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Add the half-and-half, sour cream, 1 cup of the Cheddar, the scallions, and melted butter and mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the potatoes are quite large, you may need to add a touch more half-and-half (and a little more cheese wouldn’t be a terrible thing).
- 5. Place the empty potato skins on an oiled baking sheet or in a baking dish. Spoon or pipe the potato mixture into the empty potato skin shells. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar and the Parmesan. (At this point, the potatoes can be loosely covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
- 6. Bake the potatoes for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the filling is warmed through. Top each potato half with sour cream and sprinkle with scallions or chives. Serve immediately.
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Twice-Baked Potatoes with Irish Cheddar Recipe © 2010 Rick Tramonto. Photo © 2010 Ben Fink. All rights reserved.