food, history, rural life, and how we connect our cultural past and future
Twice-Baked Potatoes on a drizzly day
About once a year I get the urge to bake up a huge batch of twice-baked potatoes for the freezer. It’s a simple operation but one that goes easier if you have everything laid out and ready when the hot potatoes come out of the oven. Since it takes only a little more effort to make a lot as a little I always make a lot.
Big russet baking potatoes (this last batch I used a 20 lb. bag that had 15 potatoes in it – which makes 15 meals worth)
Grated cheese (cheddar, jack, gouda, cream cheese, whatever combination you like) Reserve a good 2/3s of the cheese to put on top of the finished potatoes.
Butter (lots – room temp and cut in pieces so it melts fast)
Half and half or cream (I put mine in a Pyrex cup and heat it in the microwave till nice and hot)
A big cookie sheet lined with foil for baking
Olive oil, or lard or vegetable oil
A big bowl for mashing
Cookie sheets to hold the halves while you fill them and while they freeze.
Wash the potatoes and scrub the skins well. You might have to cut away some small spots.
Rub each potato thoroughly with the oil (this helps the skin stay intact when done)
Put them on the cookie sheet and bake for 2 hours or so at 350 degrees before testing with a small sharp knife. If still a bit firm give them another ½ hour or so before taking them out of the oven.
Have an area set up with the bowl and a regular soup-type spoon to scoop out the flesh, a sharp serrated knife to cut the potatoes and a cutting board. Have the cream hot and the butter room temp.
Using gloves take each potato and cut it in half lengthwise. Work through cutting all your potatoes; then using the soup spoon scoop out the flesh making sure you don’t cut through the bottom of the shell but get most of the flesh.
Now comes the mashing part; add the butter and some salt and mash away – then add some hot milk and mash some more – then add about 1/3rd of the cheese and mash some more – continuing to add hot milk till the potatoes are not stiff but not sloppy and keep tasting for enough salt.
When seasoned to your taste (and some people might want to grind in black pepper and add garlic powder and/or paprika or whatever suits their fancy) scoop the mashed potato into the shells. Don’t heap the shells too high as you might run out of potato before you run out of shells! If there is potato left fill in those shells that are a bit skimpy.
Use the rest of the cheese to top the potatoes generously.
Now at this point you could bake them again in a nice hot 400 degree oven for 15 min or so and serve them OR set them aside to go into the freezer. For that let them cool – cover them with clear wrap and freeze right on the cookie sheet overnight.
In the morning take two or how ever any you might want for a meal and package that number of frozen potatoes in a zipper bag. When you want to eat them put them in an oven proof pan in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 min. I don’t cover them because I like them really crunchy.