There is nothing like a plate full of crispy potato skins, filled with melty cheddar cheese, and topped with bacon bits, sour cream and green onions.
The first time I had these I was 21 years old, at an outdoor cafe on Newbury Street in Boston; I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Oh for the days of youth when one could eat potato skins with wild abandon! I could eat a whole plate back then (and drink a pitcher of beer along with it) and be none the worse. Sigh.
These potato skins are easy to make. Some approaches call for deep frying, but I don't think it is really necessary. You just want to bake the skins at a high enough heat so that they get crispy enough to hold the toppings.
6 medium russet potatoes (3 pounds)
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
6 slices bacon
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Bake the potatoes:
Scrub the potatoes clean then bake the potatoes using your favorite method, either oven or microwave. If using an oven, pierce a few times with a sharp knife or the tines of a fork, rub with olive oil and bake in a 400°F oven for about an hour until the potatoes are cooked through and give a little when pressed.
If using a microwave, pierce the potato a few times with a sharp knife of the tines of a fork, rub all over with olive oil and cook on the high setting for about 5 minutes per potato.
I have found that baking the potatoes in a conventional oven yields potatoes that are easier to work with (cut and scoop out), the potato seems to adhere to the skins a little better, but there is hardly a discernible difference in the final product.
Cook the bacon:
While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon strips in a frying pan on medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Let cool. Crumble.
Cut potatoes in half and scoop out the insides:
Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Cut in half horizontally. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out the insides, reserving the scooped potatoes for another use, leaving about 1/4 of an inch of potato on the skin.
Bake the potato skins:
Increase the heat of the oven to 450°F. Brush or rub olive oil all over the potato skins, outside and in. Sprinkle with salt.
Place on a baking rack in a roasting pan (don't use a cookie sheet, it will warp, use a roasting pan or broiler pan that can take the heat).
Cook for 10 minutes on one side, then flip the skins over and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.
Add cheese and bacon and bake again:
Arrange the potato skins skin-side down on the roasting pan or rack. Sprinkle the insides with freshly ground black pepper, cheddar cheese, and crumbled bacon.
Return to the oven. Broil for an additional 2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven.
Top with sour cream and green onions to serve:
Use tongs to place skins on a serving plate. Add a dollop of sour cream to each skin, sprinkle with green onions.
Potato skins with blue cheese and spinach from Dagmar in Sweden, of A Cat in the Kitchen