I’m sure I’m not alone when I tell you that I have been a huge fan of the potato, in all of its glorious forms, basically since the time I began eating solid foods. Roasted potatoes, French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes… you name it, I’ll eat it and enjoy the heck out of it. At some point when I was younger, my mom surprised us with a “special” dinner that included twice-baked potatoes in place of regular ol’ baked potatoes. Oh my goodness! I tap-danced over the fact that I was essentially eating mashed potatoes in a baked potato. I loved it, and from then on, anytime I had a twice-baked potato, it felt extra-special and a little fancy.
My mother-in-law makes twice-baked potatoes fairly often and, oh my, they’re amazing. When I finally asked for the recipe, I realized why! They are loaded with all of the good stuff – butter, cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and plenty of seasonings. I took the recipe and made just a couple of little tweaks of my own… I swapped scallions for chives and added bacon, because, well… I don’t actually need a reason to add bacon, do I?
Loaded baked potatoes meet mashed potatoes, and I could totally make a meal of just these and a salad.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub potatoes and pierce all over with a paring knife or fork. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, then place directly on the oven rack. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a paring knife.
Remove from oven allow to cool until they are able to be handled. Slice in half lengthwise and remove the flesh and place in a medium bowl, leaving a ¼ inch border around the skin so the potatoes remain sturdy. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and brush on the empty potato shells and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the empty shells on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for an additional 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once it begins to melt, add the white parts of the scallion and stir to combine. Once the butter is totally melted, add the milk and continue to cook over very low heat. (Do not allow the mixture to come to a simmer.)
Once the milk mixture is warmed through, remove from the heat and pour over the potato flesh in the bowl. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper and half of the shredded cheddar cheese. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture until combined and nearly smooth.
Fill the empty shells evenly with the mixture, mounding any excess on top of each potato. Sprinkle the tops with bacon, and the remaining shredded cheddar cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining green scallions and serve immediately.