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Tom’s Twice-Baked Potato Casserole
Side (or for Tom … Main)
We love potatoes at the Casa de Mai Tai. For Thanksgiving we always make Tom’s Mom’s Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes and for the holidays we enjoy Crispy English Potatoes with Pancetta.
Once summer rolls around there is only one potato dish for us, Tom’s Twice-Baked Potato Casserole. Tom has been making some variation on this recipe since his college days and this was his go-to bachelor dinner … Wow! That’s a long time ago!
This is a very flexible recipe, it doubles easily and can be made ahead (just bring to room temperature before heating). Sometimes I use different cheese, more green onions, add bacon, etc. It is particularly good with Tom’s favorite cheese, Spicy Habanero Pepper Jack.
MaiTaiTracy Tip: Speaking of bacon, if you want bacon in your potatoes, cook the bacon in the oven while the potatoes are baking. Just lay them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes, flipping half way through to get both sides crispy.
Everyone has a recipe for twice-baked potatoes, but I like this one because of its creamy richness due to the sour cream and extra sharp Cheddar cheese combo. I like to use both white and orange cheddars and highly recommend extra-sharp for added flavor.
So, what’s the difference between the orange and white cheddar? Apparently, nothing! From the Cabot website, “Coloring was originally added to distinguish where the cheddar cheese was made.” (However, this does not explain why I prefer white cheddar….)For the creamiest potatoes, add the butter and mashed into the potatoes until melted before adding the sour cream and cheese. According to Cook’s Illustrated, “when the butter goes in before the dairy, the result is a silkier, creamier, smoother texture than when the dairy goes in first.”
Despite the nutritional value of potato skins, Tom is not a big fan so I bake this in a casserole dish but you can easily re-stuff the skins or chop them up and put them into the mixture.
[MaiTaiTracy Tip: If you are going to re-stuff the potato skins instead of making a casserole, leave 1/8” to ¼” border around the potatoes and return the skins to the oven for about 10 minutes to crisp up while you make the filling.]
Last but not least, we add thinly sliced green onions and chives and the secret ingredient? White pepper… lots of white pepper! We love white pepper so I start with 1 teaspoon of the white pepper and ¾ teaspoon of salt and then taste and adjust from there. If you aren’t sure about the white pepper, start with less.
Bring on the summer potato!
4 medium Russet potatoes, try to get the same size
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sour cream
4 green onions, thinly sliced white and light green parts
12 ounces Sharp or Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Kosher salt and white pepper
Preheat oven to 375F. Scrub and dry the potatoes and poke holes all over with a knife or fork to allow them to vent steam as they bake. Bake the potatoes directly on the rack until tender when pierced with a knife or fork, 50-60 minutes depending on size.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly until cool enough to handle. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides with a spoon.
In a large bowl, mash the potatoes with the butter until the butter is melted and the potatoes are mostly smooth. Add the sour cream, cheese and green onions and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and white pepper (see note).
Return the mashed potatoes to an oven safe casserole dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes until heated through.