Because I am on a pediatrics rotation, I felt permission to disregard the age-old adage to not play with your food. I carved canoes out of baking potatoes while singing “Just Around the River Bend” from Disney’s Pocahontas. Two hours and several skinned knuckles later, I realized that the recipe implied (which is something a good recipe never does–good recipes are explicit) wanted you to boil the potato first to soften the innards, which I highly recommend. No, I stress. Boil the potato first, then carve them into canoes, only to restuff them again with poutine gravy, topped with olive-oil fried potato-skin berets and chives. SO SO good.
Poutine-Style Twice Baked Potatoes
Adapted from Food & Wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tablespoon veal demiglace (optional)
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
6 baked potatoes (about 1/2 pound each)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup sour cream
3 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 cup)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup chopped chives
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for frying
6 ounces thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sour cream, thinly sliced scallions, parsley leaves and celery leaves, for garnish
MAKE THE GRAVY In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, demiglace, sage and thyme and cook until thickened to a gravy-like consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and heavy cream and season with salt and black pepper. Keep warm.
PREPARE THE STUFFED POTATOES Cut one 1/2-inch-wide strip off the top of each baked potato and reserve. Scoop the (here they imply that the potato is already baked/boiled, somehow softened and cooled) potato flesh into a large bowl. Place the potato shells on a baking sheet. Using a ricer, mash the potato flesh with the butter into another large bowl; add the warm milk and mix until blended. Stir in the sour cream, Parmigiano, mustard, cayenne and chives and season with salt and pepper.
In a small saucepan, heat your oil to 350º. Scrape the flesh off the reserved 1/2-inch strips of the potato tops. Cut the skins into wedges and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain the skins on a paper towel-lined plate.
Preheat the oven to 450º. In a small nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels.
Spoon about 2/3 cup of the mashed potato mixture into each potato shell and make a well in the center. Bake for about 20 minutes, until heated through and golden on top. Spoon some gravy into the well of each potato, then top with the shredded mozzarella. Bake the potatoes for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter and top with the bacon. Garnish with sour cream, scallions, parsley and celery leaves and the crispy potato skins.
Do my pictures in this post look a little yellow? A little, jaundiced? Since my week with neonates, I’ve been asking everyone that. Are you jaundiced? I asked my husband last night while we were on a jog. I pointed out that a soccer player on TV looked jaundiced. I’m seeing the whole world, apparently, through xanthine-tinted glasses.