There were a few more items in our fairly bare cupboard when we returned from our Colorado visit. Besides, I was holding off a trip to the grocery store for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I felt a bit lazy.
I found two russet potatoes, and baked potatoes came to mind. They are certainly easy, but they also seemed a little boring. Twice-baked potatoes use almost exactly the same ingredients, but somehow they seem a little more festive, so that’s what I decided to do.
- 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
- vegetable shortening
- 2 slices bacon
- 4 crimini mushrooms, chopped coarsely
- 4 tablespoons butter + more for the topping
- ¼ cup cream
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 small shallot, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Rub the potatoes all over with vegetable shortening, pierce on both sides in several places with a kitchen fork and place on a baking rack in the middle of an oven preheated to 350°F. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, turning once halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven and cool until the potatoes are easy to handle.
- Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, and with a large spoon, scoop out the flesh, leaving about ¼ inch rim intact. Try not to pierce the skin. Transfer the scooped out flesh to a large bowl. Mash coarsely with a table fork.
- In the meantime, sauté the bacon in a small pan over medium-low heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on several layers of paper towelling and crumble when cooled. Set aside.
- Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat in the still hot pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
- Melt the butter, and stir it into the mashed potatoes along with the cream and sour cream. Then add the shallot, garlic and Gruyère cheese. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Divide the mixture evenly among the hollowed potato shells. Smooth the tops, paint with more melted butter using a pastry brush. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the middle of the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Then increase the oven temperature to 400°F and continue to bake until the tops of the stuffed potatoes are browned, about 10 more minutes. Watch closely to prevent burning.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Two potato halves make a light dinner or lunch. One potato half is a good side dish.