Making Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes are the perfect side dish for steak or even grilled chicken. Depending on the ingredients you use, you could even eat them by themselves. You shouldn't be intimidated by twice baked potatoes, though. Twice baked potatoes may sound hard to prepare, but they are actually easy. You're just combining two cooking techniques to prepare one dish.

Prepping for Twice Baked Potatoes
When making twice baked potatoes, you'll need large baking potatoes. Once you get home, scrub the spuds thoroughly so that all the dirt has been removed. Then prick the potatoes several times using a fork. To make the outside of the potatoes as good as the inside, roll them in olive oil, and then sprinkle the outside with a coarse salt, such as kosher salt. The potatoes are then ready to be baked, and twice baked.

The First Baking Process
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and place your spuds on the middle rack of the oven. Since the potatoes were coated in olive oil, it pays to place a cookie sheet on the lower rack in case the olive oil drips off the potatoes. The times it takes for the potatoes to be fully baked will depend on their size. Most will take at least an hour. You'll need to watch them closely. Once they are fully baked, the skin will be loosened from the flesh, the flesh will be tender and the skin will be crisp. They are then ready to be twice baked.

Ingredients Needed for Twice Baked Potatoes
Twice baked potatoes are baked, mashed and baked again. When making twice baked potatoes, you'll want to add ingredients that you would normally add to mashed potatoes. For example, you could add roasted garlic with cream cheese. You could also make a twice-baked version using cheddar cheese, bacon and chives. There are so many different combinations for this twice-baked potatoes recipe. You could make twice baked potatoes every day of the week and never serve the same version twice.

Once your spuds have cooled from the first baking process, cut them in half, remove most of the flesh, and mash in your favorite ingredients. You're then ready to move on to the second baking process.

The Second Baking Process
Once your spuds have been mashed, fill the skins back up with the mashed potatoes. To turn these stuffed skins into twice baked potatoes, pop them back in the 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. You'll want them to be in the oven long enough for the flavors to combine and the cheese to melt. Twice baked potatoes look and taste best when you allow them to brown slightly.

Tips and Suggestions for Twice Baked Potatoes
To get the perfect spuds for twice baked potatoes, you'll want to purchase individual potatoes rather than a bag. It's also important that they be uniform in size so that they bake evenly. If you like, you can complete the first baking process ahead of time and allow the potatoes to cool before popping them into the fridge. If you want twice baked potatoes to be a meal unto themselves, add meat. You can stir in grilled chicken, pieces of steak or large pieces of broccoli. If you're really in a hurry for twice baked potatoes, prepare them up to the point before they get baked for a second time. You can even freeze them for later use.

Twice baked potatoes aren't a difficult dish to prepare. The key is to choose the right spuds. You'll want large, uniform bakers that are big enough to be twice baked. You'll also want to take the time to season the outside of the spuds so that they're just as good as the inside. More importantly, you must clean your potatoes because salt and dirt just don't mix.

Twice baked potatoes also allow you to be extremely creative in the kitchen. You can add cheese, herbs, vegetables, meat and anything else you might enjoy. For example, why not try twice baked sweet potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and toasted pecans? The possibilities are truly endless. All you need are a few spuds, a pantry full of ingredients and a good imagination.

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