Friday, January 20, 2012

Pioneer Woman: Twice-Baked Potatoes

Hi everyone,  I know this has been a busy day for blog posts, but for dinner tonight we (finally) made the twice-baked potatoes from the Pioneer Woman cookbook (page 152 if you're following along).

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Verdict: Easy and delicious, but definitely not quick. You can freeze them, though -- who knew?!
Cook it Again:  Maybe
Cost Factor: We usually have all the ingredients on hand, so this isn't too bad. Potatoes, cheese, and bacon are the biggest expenses.

I've made twice-baked potatoes before and there's really not much complicated to these, but I'd seen some of my fellow cooking club members comment that they like their potatoes extra creamy, so I was a little apprehensive that these would be too dry.  Totally not the case!  The recipe calls for 8 strips of bacon, which I didn't feel like making tonight so I used the crumpled bacon (real bacon) from Costco.  That was my only "cheat."  It also is heavy on the butter again -- two entire sticks, if you're counting. You could probably scale back, but as Emeril says, "Doesn't it taste good?!  It tastes good because it has butter in it!"  (...or some such thing.  I assure you I've heard him express this sentiment, over and over!)

About the only thing I noticed with this recipe is that, similar to the quiche, my cooking time for the actual initial baking of the potatoes was at least ten minutes longer than the cookbook said it would be.  I'm pretty confident that our oven temp is correct, so for future recipes I'm going to build in a little buffer compared to what Ree's suggested time is.  As it was tonight, I forgot to start on these early enough in the day, and we ended up eating at 8.  It wasn't bad -- we'd had a late lunch, too, and it is Friday, after all -- but it definitely was kind-of late for the kiddos.  We generally try to eat closer to 6 and if we have to, because of tutoring, 7.  So, this was a late dinner for our family by any standard.

I did some simple breaded pork chops in the oven to go with these, and we also had the requisite apple sauce.  Also, because I was cooking the pork chops at 425, I held the potatoes out of the oven until the last ten minutes and then put them in for the cheese to melt.  Ree's recipe calls for putting them in the oven at 300 to melt the cheese, but I figured if the 400 crisped up the sides and tops, that wouldn't hurt, either.

I didn't take step-by-step photos, but did take this one snapshot of everything happily baking in the oven.
Do the pork chops look like they are seasoned with Shake-n-Bake?*

I know you're impressed by the sparkling clean oven racks.  Seriously, my entire kitchen is sparkling clean, and if you want to know how I got the oven to look brand new -- and it wasn't elbow grease, I assure you -- leave a comment and I will happily share!  We've had the oven/range twelve years next month, and I promise you that this is the cleanest it has EVER been, other than the day it was installed!

So, why did I only rate this a "maybe" for cooking it again?  Well, this is the kind of recipe that I just do by eye.  I add milk, or heavy cream, I add butter, I add whatever toppings I want, and when I'm happy with what I have, we're done.  It's like mashing potatoes -- adding milk, cream, etc., until it's the right texture and creaminess.  While these are definitely delicious, I'm not convinced that I necessarily need to follow this specific recipe to make twice-baked potatoes.  They're very good, and I am glad we made them, and I will surely make twice-baked potatoes many more times in the future, but whether I attribute the recipe to PW or just knowing how to make TBP, I'm not sure.  That's all. Nothing serious -- the recipe is fine, and if you need a starting point for making TBP, this is a great one!


*  Yes, these are Shake-n-Bake pork chops.  I probably make Shake-n-Bake once every other year, but every time I do, I am reminded of just how stinking good it is!  

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