Saturday, September 12, 2015

Crispy Cheesy Oniony Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Crispy Cheesy Oniony Twice Baked Potato Casserole

What do you do when you want to make a twice baked potato casserole, but you don't have bacon in the house? Sure, you could drive to the store to spend $5 on a pound of bacon, or you could fry up the potato skins and use them as a crispy topping instead. My train of thought actually went something like this: "Need side dish for church--potatoes--homemade potato chips--no, pain in the butt--fried baked potatoes--too greasy and they'll get cold--cheesy potatoes--no cream of chicken soup--twice baked potato casserole--no bacon or green onion or cream cheese--caramelize some onions with garlic--cheese chunks, not grated cheese--fry the skins and put on top--YES."
Well, suffice it to say, everyone at our church dinner raved about the potatoes--everyone who got some anyway. They went pretty fast. The flavors and textures in here are perfect: creamy, salty, oniony potatoes with lots of melty cheddar cheese throughout, and the crispy salty fried skins on top just add another layer of fabulous to the experience. YUM. I will definitely be doing this again.

Crispy Cheesy Oniony Twice Baked Potato Casserole

  • 6 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for crispy skins
  • 1 1/2 cups medium cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
  • canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash, trim, and pierce potatoes. Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour at 400 degrees, or until they  yield when squeezed gently with a mitted hand.
While potatoes bake, place a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add butter and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Saute the chopped onions until they start to brown on the edges. Add the chopped garlic and pepper, and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
When potatoes are done, carefully remove with oven mitts or tongs. Turn oven down to 325 degrees. Carefully cut each potato in half lengthwise. Holding a half potato in a mitted hand, scoop out the potato and place potato flesh in a mixing bowl. Scoop out almost all of the white flesh, leaving about 1/8 inch of the white flesh in the shell of the skin. Repeat with remaining potato halves. Set skins aside. 
To the potato in the mixing bowl, add 4 tablespoons butter, milk, sour cream, and half teaspoon salt. With a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low until ingredients are incorporated, and then mix on high for about a minute until mixture is creamy. Add onion mixture and beat to incorporate. Stir in chunks of cheese. 
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread potato mixture into the dish, cover with aluminum foil, and place in the oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. 
While potatoes bake again, heat up about 1 inch of canola oil in a frying pan. Line a plate with a couple of layers of paper towels. Stack 3 or 4 potato skins on a cutting board and cut into 1/4 inch strips, preferably in the direction that will give you shorter strips. Repeat with remaining skins. When oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit, add a portion of the potato skin strips, taking care not to place too many in at once--you can fry in batches. Gently stir and fry potato skins until browned and crisp. Remove crisp skins to paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat with remaining skins until all are fried.
After 30 minutes, remove potatoes from the oven, take the foil off, and evenly sprinkle crispy potato skins all over the top. If potato skins don't seem crisp enough, you can turn the oven to broil and broil for 2 minutes to crisp them up on top.
Serve hot, but be careful.
Makes about 12 servings

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