By Cal Orey
I remember ordering these appetizers at T.G.I. Friday's in San Mateo in the '90s. It was a ritual. My best friend and I would go into a bar and order a plate of these gems. Simply put, potato skins are potato shells, crispy brown, stuffed with cheeses, toppings complete with sour cream for a dip.
Here, take a look--and you can win big by making them yourself without a lot of hassle or heartbreak."I'll have an order of Potato Skins," I said to the server at a Lake Tahoe restaurant. "But hold the bacon," I added. My blind date tanked so to heal my fragile female ego, playing and winning at the slot machines, taking in a movie, and indulging in the comforting, cheesy taters made the bad experience easily forgettable.
4 medium russet potatoes
2-4 tablespoons European style butter
A dash of sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1-1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream (for dipping)
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped (optional)
Wash potatoes. Prick each one with a fork and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop flesh leaving shells. Place into deep baking dish. Drizzle melted butter over the skins. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put into oven turned up to 375 degrees. Back for about 10 minutes, remove. Turn potatoes over and heat for another 10 minutes or until brown and crispy. Place potato skins upright and pile on the cheese. Bake for a few more minutes. Remove. Serve hot and add a small dish of sour cream. Makes 3-4 servings.
*Callie's Tips: Cool potatoes before scooping out the flesh. Use a knife or small melon ball scooper to gently cut a large rectangle of potato about 1/2 inch. Olive oil mixed with butter is an option but butter makes the potato skins super crispy. Onions, salt, and pepper give the potato skins extra flavor. Cooked, crispy bacon bits are a must-have for meat lovers. And chopped tomatoes, parsley and/or chives are great for vegetarians.
These potato skins made at home are fun to make. At the end of summer as we edge into autumn it's still hot in the kitchen. So, it's best to whip up these potatoes after it cools down. Serving these cuties with iced tea (or your chilled brew of choice) makes this season memorable whether you're enjoying the hot stuff with a mate or solo. Either way it's all good.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is www.calorey.com .