I love, love, love appetizers. I love them almost as much as desserts. In fact, if I could arrange it so that the main dish was eliminated from meals and we only ate appetizers and dessert, I would be in food heaven. That sort of sounds like the type of platform that someone running for student body president in high school would run on, doesn’t it? First of all, it would be awesome if the real-life, grown-up elections that we have to endure now were more like those of our youth. Second of all, I would vote all day, every day for someone who was proposing meals consisting solely of appetizers and desserts. When it comes to appetizers (or any food, for that matter), I’m not a fancy girl. Forget the caviar or highfalutin hors d’oeuvres. Give me dips, chips and potato skins. Carbs, cheese and bacon. That’s my speed. And if that’s wrong, I don’t ever want to be right.
I’ve been in love with potato skins since I was a kid and my cousin worked at a small diner-style restaurant in our town. My mom would take my sister and I there to say hi and get a bite to eat. The only thing I remember from those little trips were potato skins. Since then, I’ve gravitated to potato skins on every appetizer menu I’ve seen. They’re crispy potato skins filled with cheese and bacon, topped with sour cream and green onions. Basically, these are everything that is good about appetizers. And football season. And life. Make them, love them, and cheer on your favorite team.
6 russet potatoes (small to medium-sized is best)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Scrub the potatoes and dry them thoroughly. Rub the outside of the potatoes with canola oil and place directly on the oven rack. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until potato is tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes or so, until cool enough to handle. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
3. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, cookie scoop or melon baller (any will work), scoop out the insides of the potato, leaving a little bit of potato clinging to the skin (about a ¼ inch).
4. Combine the melted butter with 2 tablespoons canola oil. Brush both sides of the potatoes with the butter/oil mixture and then season with salt and pepper. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet face-down and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the potato halves over and bake for an additional 10 minutes (the edges of the potato skins will start to turn golden brown).
5. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the insides with the shredded cheese and bacon. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Switch to broil for an additional minute or two, if desired.
6. Use tongs to transfer the potato skins to a serving platter. Add a dollop of sour cream and sliced green onions to the potato skins and serve immediately.