Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let Go My Nacho -- Potato Skins!

In my never ending quest to expose my children to the culinary benefits of foods that touch each other, I fired up the ol’ brain cells to concoct something so terrific that even the pickiest of pickies would at least try a nibble of. Was I successful? Did we experience a breakthrough? Houston ... Did we solve a problem?

My picky eater fan club members like potatoes. They like cheese. Actually, they luuuv cheese a lot. They will also choke down plain old, don’t jazz it up, taco meat. Soooo .... why not put them together? Just this once, why not let those three items cohabitate and create Nacho Potato Skins!

I realized that I hadn’t made potato skins since, well, let’s just say it was back when Pluto was still solidly considered a planet. Still, how hard could it be? Not hard at all, is the answer. A quick internet search provided me with basic instructions. First you bake the potato, then you slice and scoop the potato, then you alternately broil and stuff and broil the potato again.

I’m not super familiar with the broiler; we’re more like acquaintances. My friend, Marjie, is a pro at the broiler. (Have you met Marjie yet? I adore Marjie. Go take a quick visit; we’ll wait. Be sure to tell her Paula said “hi”.) Having read Marjie’s broiling instructions for a while now, I figured that the time had arrived to advance my relationship with said broiler from acquaintances to friends. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s review the recipe first.

Nacho Potato Skins

Russet potatoes – one or two per person
Sea Salt
½ cup melted butter
Seasoned salt

1 ½ lbs. of cojack cheese – shred it yourself!

1 ½ lbs ground beef
taco seasoning (I used gluten free)
chicken broth

chopped tomatoes
chopped green onions
chopped cilantro (hi Pam!)
sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Wash potatoes, prick each one 3 times with a knife, place whole potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for about 1 hour or until baked through.

In the meantime, shred the cheese. Yes, please shred it and don’t buy the prepacked shredded stuff. I timed myself, and it took me not even 2 minutes to shred the cheese, including interruptions. The cheese you shred yourself melts sooooo much better than the packaged stuff. After shredding your cheese, go ahead and prepare your garnishes.

Prepare the taco meat using your favorite recipe. I used a package spice mix and substituted chicken broth in place of the water. I like chicken broth. A lot. Do you ever substitute chicken broth for water? I do. A lot. Have I said “a lot” enough in this post?

When the potatoes are finished baking, let cool slightly and slice each one in half. Even after letting them cool, they will still be tarzan hot. If you have asbestos fingers like me, you’ll be okay. Otherwise, use a hand towel to hold the potato and protect your fingers. (Have you ever seen those commercials for the OvGlove? I thought about that product as I was playing hot potato.)

Preheat your broiler. Using a small sized melon baler or teaspoon, hollow out each potato half, leaving about a ¼ inch of flesh. You’ll end up with lots of potato “pulp”. Save it for mashed potatoes or other uses. Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of the hulled potato with butter and sprinkle with season salt. Turn the potatoes cut side down, and coat the outside with butter, too. If you see a stray bit of potato, absolutely nab it and do a taste test. Place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Remove, turn cut side up and return to the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Remove, and fill the shells with lots of cheese. Be generous. It’s cheese. It’s yummy. Pile it on. Oh, and don’t worry if you need to sneak a shred or two for a taste test. It’s okay, I won’t judge you. Top that with a couple spoonfuls of meat, and then crown it with another mountain of cheese. Then it’s back under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until melted and bubbly. I love melted and bubbly cheese. Oh, if you’re like me and discover that some cheese went onto the tray as you were filling the shells, you are in for a treat! Look at it now. All melty with no where to go. Hmmm ... just a quick tasty sample. Oh, here’s one with some stray meat. Better not let it go to waste.

Ahem. Alrighty. Now it’s time to plate your potatoes. They will be really hot, so take care when transporting them from baking tray to plate. Top with your favorite garnishes, and dive right it. I prefer the fork and knife method. My children, however, had ideas of their own.
Couple notes: You could easily substitute other fillings and meat. Bacon, of course, comes to mind. You could use chicken or steak or pork even. My kids ate theirs sans garnishes. I think these would make a lovely fancy breakfast being stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon/sausage, and cheese. And absolutely, you can use left over baked potatoes. In fact, next time I make baked potatoes, I’ll throw in a couple extra just to use for later. Oh, and this is gluten free, all the way, baby!


OhioMom said...

Those look so yummy! Cheese and potatoes go together like that proverbial horse and carriage, and the add-ons don't hurt either :)

Pam said...

Oh Paula. I am totally going to make these. I don't care if my kids like them - more for me. ;)

Lisa said...

These look just awesome!

Marjie said...

I like the looks of that cheese. But then, I love cheese any old way I can get it. I'm glad you got the picky ones to eat these! Your colors are splendid; to me, a great deal of the flavor of food is transmitted through the color.

My mother in law bought me an OvGlove a few years back. It made me feel really clumsy. Sort of like cooking while wearing a ski glove. Still, it was great that it could just hop into the washer, because I always manage to stuff my finger tips into the pan.

Peter M said...

Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my chin.

Love this's Nachos w/ beef in potatoes...good one!

Deborah said...

This is my kind of food! Delish!

Esi said...

I may skip the potato part, but the fillings look delicious!

The Blonde Duck said...

Brilliant. Totally brilliant. Meat, potatoes, cheese--sheer brilliance. We could devote an entire cooking show to these.

Lo said...

"the culinary benefits of foods that touch each other"... you crack me up, Paula.

I love the look of these. In fact, I'm officially getting a craving for crispified potatoes. There goes my healthy dinner :)

Pam said...

OMG! I can't tell you how good this look!!! Especially that melted cheese pulled off the foil, that is always my favorite part.

Aggie said...

Oh these look so good! I haven't potato skins in forever! Now you've got me craving some!

I found that chili powder at a specialty meat market...when I bought one of Bobby Flay's cookbooks I stocked up on a bunch of chili powders.

Cheryl said...

Those look amazing! I am so glad you posted this, I made these for my husband and he thought I did it wrong and that they were gross! I can now prove I did it exactly right! Thank you!

RecipeGirl said...

These bring back memories of going to Happy Hour in college! What a decadent, fun treat!

Kim said...

Oh YUM! They are beuuuuutiful!

noble pig said...

Oh these are awesome little devils! Yum-o!

Manggy said...

Hah! Foods that touch-- such kids :) I knew they wouldn't have theirs with garnishes. I don't get why, though-- but it looks absolutely smashing either way!

Jan said...

Oooh YUM! Now I love potato skins. I was going to post mine this very day but I think yours look sooo much more yummy than mine!
I just did cheese and bacon.


the last time i had potato skins was in new zealand. i tried cooking greek potatoes in this way, but it just wasn't the same. we are not blessed in greece with a wide range of potato varieties...

Grace said...

what a marvelous treat! potatoes trump tortilla chips as a vehicle for meat, cheese, and cilantro any day. :)

Darius T. Williams said...

YES - looks awesome!


Jason said...

Oh, could you please fed-ex me a few of those for dinner? I love simple classic recipes like this!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Paula, What a great idea! Yumm, I could do some damage with these :D. I might try to entice my picky 7 yr.old Grandaughter with these, currently shes a food hater!!

Bellini Valli said...

Another inspired way to serve up my favourite side dish...this turns it into the star of the show. I have something fun for you to do if you care to over at my blog Paula:D

Paula said...

Hi Nacho fans!

Ohiomom: Love your proverbial comparison! By the way, one of my daughter's vocabulary words this week was proverbial!

Pam: Come on over, I'll make more!

Lisa: They really were pretty, especially right out of the oven.

Hi Marjie: This cheese was particularly good ... very gooey. What you don't see in the photo of my youngest potato is when she pulled the tater away from her mouth, there was a long stretching of cheese! Ouch on the fingertip thing!

Peter: These really were drool worthy. They are much heartier than you think, too!

Deborah: They were very delish!

Esi: The filling was so easy; it's the extra freshly grated cheese that really make it special.

Blonde Duck: Perhaps the critters at the pond might enjoy some spuds and cheese!

Lo: I recommend that crispified potatoes be placed at the top of the recommended food pyramid. Right there next to bountiful quantities of cheese.

Pam: I claimed the foil crispies for myself. Lordy, lordy they were good.

Aggie: Thanks for the chili pepper info. I really prefer using the ground chiles rather than chili powder. Oh who am I kidding, I like them all!

Cheryl: Of course you did it right! I'd love to see yours sometime (hint, hint! :-))

Recipe Girl: Ahhh, the truth comes out ... happy hour vs. studying ... happy hour vs. studying ...

Kim: Thanks for visiting! They were quite yummy!

Noble Pig: Mmmm, mmmm good! Of course, one could neeeever associate me with anything devilish!

Manggy: My kids would have NO problem wolfing down one of your cakes ... even with the layers touching each other! :-)

Jan: Your's are lovely! They type you made, I have always called "twice baked". They are terrific. Hmmm ... I feel another potato post coming on! :-)

Mediterranean Kiwi: Oh, bummer about the lack of potato varieties over your way. Our here in Oregon, there is an abundance of potatoes because they grow so well in the eastern part of this state. Which is fortunate because my hubby loves his potatoes!

Grace: These were so much more filling than the chip variety ... which I also like. These really fill you up FAST!

Darius: They were awesome. I just love potatoes and cheese. YUM!

Jason: I bet the package would arrive opened and empty! No one can resist the lure of the potato!

Proud Italian: My kids ate theirs plain, and the LOVED how the cheese after each bite would stretch out an arms length! FUN!

Bellini Valli: What a fun meme! I've not seen one like that before. Thanks for the link, too!

Gloria said...

I love baked potatoes these look so yummy and tasty Paula! xGloria

Theresa said...

They look so good!!! Potato and cheese. yum.

Bridgett said...

I love a meal like this, what a great dinner for the family. I know my daughter and I would be the ones gobbling them down with ease! You always have the best comforting meals.

Mrs. L said...

I've been craving Nachos ever since I learned that yesterday was National Nachos Day. This would work!

Anonymous said...

looks like some good fixings for apres ride here today

thanx :)

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Theresa said...

Oh boy. I can't remember the last time I had these. Can I have one?


hey, i was surprised that you could relate to the story with the coffee cups. so glad to hear similar goings-on in the us among italians. the decorations i described were in our own living room in NZ, but i couldnt find any photos of them in my old albums...

Jan said...

Those look totally scrummy, Paula. What a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Yum! I try to make that for dinner and when we finish he wants to know what's for dinner!

Jude said...

yum.. Potato skins with tons of cheese make me happy. :)

Kevin said...

Those look so tasty!