Stuffed Baked Potatoes

I have been craving potatoes all week. All day I struggled to decide between potato soup and baked potatoes on this cold, cold Central Texas night.

I decided on baked potatoes. Now, I always thought I hated skin on potatoes. Sometimes I leave them in when making mashed potatoes, because I know there are a lot of nutrients near the skin and because, frankly, I am lazy (you didn’t know?). Tonight I decided to try a new method I’d heard about, and I now love potato skins! The key is to bathe them in olive oil and bake them right on the oven rack. The result is puffy, crispy, tasty potato skins and light, fluffy, warm potatoes. Delicious. Yes, it took a while, but it was totally worth it.

potatoes*
olive oil
butter
sour cream
bacon, finely chopped
cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced or diced
white or yellow onion, diced
minced garlic

The amount of ingredients you use will just depend on the number of potatoes and how much of the topping you want on them.

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cut sprouts and dark spots from potatoes. Scour them thoroughly under cold running water, either with a scouring brush or the abrasive side of a clean, unused sponge.

3. Poke about 6-8 holes in each potato with a fork.

4. In a small dish, roll each potato in a thin layer of olive oil.

5. Place each potato directly onto the oven rack, placing a cookie sheet on the shelf below to catch any drippings. Bake for at least an hour, perhaps longer for large potatoes or a large batch.

6. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, sauté onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat until fragrant, about three minutes. Add bacon and cook until it begins to get crispy. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until they are well done. Remove from heat and set aside.

7. When potatoes are done (check my sticking a fork in one), carefully remove them from the oven using a large spoon, spatula, or tongs. Using your fork, perforate one side straight down the side horizontally, forming a line to break open. Push on the ends of the potato with your fingers, using the fork in the center if necessary, to pry open the potatoes. If they are done, this will be easy.

8. Spoon a dollop of butter into each potato. Top with mushroom and bacon mixture and sour cream to taste. Serve immediately.

*Russet potatoes are best, but any will do in a pinch!

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