I have never cared for potato skins. They were a common order back in the days when my friends and I would hit an after hours restaurant, and even back then I remember thinking that they really weren’t good. Granted, the restaurants we frequented in those days weren’t exactly considered high-quality (the most food for the least amount of money was the criteria), but even for these restaurants they were bad. Flabby and no flavor.
Then recently I was out with friends at a fairly decent restaurant when someone ordered a potato skins appetizer to share. I was curious to see if these potato skins would confirm my memory of them. They weren’t as bad as my memories but they still weren’t great. Confusing, since there just aren’t many ingredients which led me to believe that it couldn’t possibly be that difficult to pull off. So I decided that I was going to make my own!
The first thing I did was bake my potatoes. I poked a few holes in each potato using a fork, rubbed each lightly with oil and a smidgen of salt, then baked at 425 degrees until done (you know they’re done when the skin pulls away slightly from the potato; the inside should feel soft and have some give to it). I let them cool until I could handle them easily (okay, I was my typical can’t-wait-to-eat and burned my hands just a little – which is why you should do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do). I cut them in half* and scooped out the pulp** until there was just a thin layer of potato covering the skin.
*When you cut them in half, turn them on their side first and cut them; you don’t want to cut into the side they naturally settle on or they won’t sit as nicely.
**Keep your pulp and make a yummy baked potato soup out of it. If you don’t have enough, either bake a few more potatoes or pick up some ready-made (NOT from a box); Simply Potatoes is a good brand.
Once I had my skins hollowed out, I brushed them all over with a small amount of oil (this helped make them crispy) and placed them skin side up on a baking sheet. I increased my oven temp to 475 (again, to make them crispy) and roasted those bad boys for 15 minutes (check them at 12 minutes, you don’t want them to burn). Then I flipped them, seasoned them with salt & pepper (not too much salt if you’re adding bacon), and added the toppings: shredded cheese and crumbled bacon. I wanted to add more – and different – toppings, but since I was doing an apples-to-apples comparison I didn’t want different flavors to sway me. Back in the oven they went until the cheese was ooey-gooey and the bacon heated and crisp (about 2-3 minutes). Sour cream and chives went on just before serving.
The end result? CRISPY and YUMMY! I’ll do different toppings next time – pancetta and blue cheese, goat cheese and spinach (or mushrooms?), spicy buffalo chicken, etc. I like the cheese and bacon – I mean, c’mon, we’re talking cheese and bacon – and for the Super Bowl I think that’s definitely the way to go (no one wants “fancy” food or flavors on the Super Bowl with their beer, at least I don’t). But it would be fun to switch it up a bit from time to time!
Here’s the printable recipe, then scroll down for some other yummy variations I found around the web:
Crispy Baked Potato Skins
- 6 russet potatoes, baked
- 1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or a mexican blend)
- sour cream
Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the pulp until a thin layer of potato remains. Brush shells on both sides with oil; place skin-side-up on a baking sheet. Bake at 475 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until shells are browned and very crispy.
Flip shells over and fill with cheese. Top with crumbled bacon. Bake another 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bacon has re-crisped. Place on serving platter and either top with sour cream and chives or serve it on the side.
Delicious Variations from around the web: