There are a lot of people who find potatoes uninteresting. I know this because I happen to live with one of those people. Me? I love potatoes. My good friend, Betty, considers the lowly potato to be her favorite vegetable. Me too! Can you think of another vegetable that is so versatile or universally appealing? It's not Lima beans, I can tell you that.
Sometimes, though, the cook can get a little bored with making the same baked or mashed potato dish again and again. Enter the genius combination of both of these styles - the twice-baked potato - a pleasing, yet company-worthy side dish.
Generally, most people tend to bake potatoes, scoop out the hot insides, season with salt and pepper, and maybe a little cheese, whip them up with a little hot milk and butter, fill the empty shells with the whipped mixture and bake again. There is nothing wrong with that. But! If you want to be a bit more special, then try my leek-stuffed version. It is not overly “leek-y,” it just has the little hint of something delicious that will have your guests wondering what you did, while scraping the skins clean.
Leek-Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes
6 medium russet potatoes
1 large leek
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup grated Fontina
1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Scrub potatoes, prick four or five times with the tines of a fork, and rub with about 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt each, if you have Kosher salt. If not, do not bother, they will still be fine. I just find that the addition of Kosher salt, baked into the skin, makes eating the skin much more desirable for those who care to do so.
Place potatoes directly onto the center rack in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cut the root end off of the leek (set aside for replanting), cut off dark green section, discard in the compost bin (or save for making stock). Then split down the middle and give it a good rinse, looking under folds for dirt, sand, and grit. When leek is thoroughly cleaned, slice it into 1/4"-1/8" slices. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium sauté pan, add leeks, and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
When potatoes are finished baking, remove from oven and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice them in half, lengthwise. Use a rounded spoon to scoop out the soft baked interior, placing it into a medium bowl. When scraping skins, leave about an 1/8" of flesh still adhered to the skin. You want them sturdy enough to hold your whipped potato mixture. After the skins have been removed of their potato, check them over and save the best four. Discard the other two (or use for another purpose). In order to mound each potato skin high enough, you need extra potato mixture, but not the extra skins.
In a microwave safe dish, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter along with the milk. Pour this over the potato mixture. Add grated cheese, and beat with a hand mixer (or vigorously with a whisk) until smooth and creamy. Fold in leeks until fully incorporated.
Carefully mound potato mixture equally into the four baked potato skins. Sprinkle with paprika. At this point they can be refrigerated (up to 24 hours) until ready for the second baking.
If baking immediately, turn the temperature of your oven down to 350°F, and bake until puffed and slightly golden, about 25-30 minutes.
Garnish with paprika and fresh chives.
|I keep a soil-filled plant pot on the deck for re-planting leeks. Here are two of them (two shoots are coming up from one base) after four days growth.|
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