Photo credits: Colin Erricson/www.robertrose.ca
Classic Twice-Baked Jacket Potato
Makes 4 to 8 servings
In the U.K., jacket potatoes – a.k.a baked potatoes – are a huge lunchtime favorite. They are sold in pubs, at outdoor market stalls and by vendors who specialize in “naught else,” as my favorite characters on Coronation Street like to say. Many ingredients work well as the filling, such as shrimp and cilantro, mushrooms and Gruyère, baked beans and bacon. Here is one version to get your motor running. Serve it with just a bit of butter and, some would say, sour cream. The number of servings depends on whether the diners consume a whole potato or a half (they are quite substantial).
• Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)
• Small baking dish
• Rimmed baking sheet
4 large floury or all-purpose potatoes (each 8 to 10 oz/250 to 300 g), scrubbed
and thoroughly dried
1⁄4 cup (60ml) olive oil, divided
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic
6 slices back (Canadian) bacon, cooked and chopped
1⁄2 cup (125ml) shredded sharp (aged) Cheddar cheese
1⁄2 cup (125ml) diced Taleggio cheese
1⁄3 cup (75ml) butter, softened
1⁄4 cup (60ml) sour cream
1⁄4 cup (60ml) finely chopped fresh chives
2 tsp (10ml) chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Using a fork, prick each potato a few times, then rub with 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil and a little salt. Place potatoes directly on oven rack.
2. In a small baking dish, combine onion, garlic and remaining oil and toss to coat. Place in the oven along with the potatoes and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until onion is slightly charred. Remove onion and garlic from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Continue to bake potatoes for a total of 11⁄2 to 2 hours or until cooked through and skin is super-crisp. Transfer to a cutting board and set aside until cool enough to handle.
3. Finely chop roasted onions and garlic and transfer to a bowl. Stir in bacon, Cheddar, Taleggio, butter, sour cream, chives and chili powder until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
4. Preheat broiler to high. Slit each potato open lengthwise (don’t cut through the bottom skin). Using a fork, rough up the flesh a bit. Transfer potato, cut side up, to baking sheet and top with a quarter of the onion mixture. Repeat until all potatoes have been topped. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until potatoes are heated through and cheese is slightly melted. Serve immediately.
Pat scrubbed potatoes dry with a clean tea towel or paper towels; if they still seem damp, let air-dry for about 10 minutes.
Taleggio is an absolutely delicious semi-soft northern Italian cheese of some pungency but with a relatively mild, nut-sweet flavor. If you can’t obtain it easily, substitute fontina, which also melts beautifully.
If you like, you can spoon out some of the baked potato flesh and blend it with the topping mixture, which will give you more of a cavity to hold the filling.
The Nacho Wedge
Makes 6 to 8 servings
I’m here to tell you to forget corn chips when making nachos. Use much healthier crisp, oven-roasted potato wedges and top with all the usual nacho suspects – chiles, beans, cheese, olives, green onions, diced tomato. This is a great dish to serve at your next big televised game day. Add salsa, guacamole and perhaps even a dollop of sour cream, just to round things off.
• Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
6 large floury potatoes, scrubbed
1⁄4 cup (60ml) olive oil
2 tsp (10ml) sweet paprika
1⁄2 tsp (2ml) garlic salt
1⁄2 tsp (2ml) dried oregano
1⁄4 tsp (1ml) cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (500ml) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1⁄2 cup (125ml) cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tomatoes, diced
3 green onions, chopped
1⁄2 cup (125ml) sliced black olives
1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced, or 1⁄4 cup
(60ml) canned sliced jalapeño peppers
1. Halve potatoes lengthwise, then cut into thick wedges of uniform thickness. Transfer to a bowl. Add oil, paprika, garlic salt, oregano, cayenne and freshly ground pepper to taste and toss until potatoes are well coated.
2. Transfer potatoes to baking sheets, lining them up nicely (do not let them touch). Bake in preheated oven, turning once or twice, for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
3. Top potatoes with half the cheese, then beans, tomatoes, green onions, olives and remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake for about 5 minutes or until cheese has melted (broil if necessary). Serve immediately.
If you have a favorite spice blend that you use for chicken or ribs, use it to season the potatoes before roasting.
For this quantity of beans, it’s probably easiest to use canned black beans, unless you have cooked dried ones from scratch and have some leftover.
Plan on serving these spuds directly from the baking tray, but let everyone know how hot it is.
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Maple Butter
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Sweet potatoes are a natural for pancakes. They lend lightness and a lovely element of sweetness to the batter and are outstanding with the usual accoutrements of smoky bacon or sausages, not to mention maple syrup or butter.
• Preheat oven to 140°F (60°C)
• Cast-iron skillet
1 cup (250ml) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15ml) packed light brown sugar
1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
1⁄2 tsp (2ml) baking soda
1⁄2 tsp (2ml) ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp (2ml) ground nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp (1ml) salt
1 large egg, beaten
3⁄4 cup (175ml) cooled dry-mashed sweet potatoes
3⁄4 cup (175ml) whole milk
1⁄2 cup (125ml) plain yogurt
2 tbsp (30ml) butter, melted
1. In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until blended. In another bowl, stir together egg, sweet potatoes, milk, yogurt and melted butter until blended. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold egg mixture into sweet potato mixture (do not overmix).
2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. Add a little of the oil, swirling pan to coat. Working in batches, add about 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) batter per pancake to pan and cook until little bubbles appear on top. Flip and cook other side until browned. Transfer to a plate and keep warm in preheated oven as you make the rest of the pancakes. Serve immediately with maple butter.
One large sweet potato should be sufficient for this recipe.
You should be able to find maple butter wherever quality maple syrup is produced. It has the consistency of thick honey and is just the thing for these pancakes. If you can’t find it, use apple butter or homemade applesauce sweetenedwith pure maple syrup.