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Potato Skins with Mushrooms
(recipe, Tod Davies)
I love to cook for just myself. That's when I get the real entertainment value out of thinking: what exactly do I have in the house and what exactly out of that do I feel like eating? I have a huge oval platter that I have these solitary meals upon — and the dog always likes them because, with my Vegetarian Husband gone, it's likely he's going to end up with a bit of meat at the end of them.
Some of the things I cook for a solitary dinner: bacon and steamed eggs on top of whole-wheat toast with salad. Squid in chipotle chile sauce, mopped up with the same whole-wheat bread. Potatoes mashed with garlic, parsley, sour cream, and butter, topped with grated Jack cheese and baked.
To get the potatoes for those, I bake a half dozen in the oven with whatever else I've got going. The first night I did this, they baked with a duck stew and an apple dessert I was making for company the next night. Then I scooped out the potato pulp, mixed it in a baking dish, and refrigerated it. Later I put it back in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes, and then under a broiler to brown it for 2.
But it's what I did with the shells a few nights later that was the best.
- 4 small or 2 large Russet potatoes, baked
- 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 thick slices of bacon (pepper bacon is nice), diced
- 10 to 12 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 cup grated Cheddar, preferably extra-sharp white Cheddar
- Cut each potato in half and scoop out the potato pulp, leaving at least a half inch of potato next to the skin. Reserve the potato pulp for another meal.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the potato shells on a baking sheet. Brush with melted better, and "pepper lavishly." Place the potato shells in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
- While the shells are in the oven, sauté the bacon and mushrooms over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add a pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms have started to soften. Clear a space in the middle of the skillet and add the shallots. Once the shallots have begun to soften, stir into the mushroom mixture, and continue cooking until the mushrooms have browned and softened — but don't let the bacon get too crispy. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Remove the potato shells from the oven and fill, dividing evenly, with the mushrooms. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top, then return to the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted. (Davies uses a toaster oven when she is making these for herself; she also recommends serving potatoes with a salad and a glass of wine.)