Monday, March 9, 2015

When You Just Have to Have It Now
What’s cooking? Twice-Baked Potatoes with Carrots, Onion, and Goat Cheese


A Note from the Kitchen Goddess: The KG has been away on a Caribbean island for a week, and now is working on a nice post about some island flavors. But it’s taking a while. So in the meantime,...

You know how sometimes you just get a craving for a particular food, and nothing will do until you satisfy that craving? Most of the time, for me, it’s a chocolate thing. This time, though, it was twice-baked potatoes.

I’ve mentioned my delightful book group before, and the format of potluck dinners. At our last meeting, my friend Ellen prepared twice-baked potatoes made with carrots mixed into the potato filling. Oh my, they were fluffy and carroty, and I’m pretty sure they had some cheese in them. Ellen said they were really easy – low cal, too! – and she promised to give me the recipe.

Then a couple of days later, as I noted above, my hubby and I left for a vacation in the Dominican Republic. After a week of chowing down on the most wonderful seafood and lots of drinks with little umbrellas in them, I was in desperate need of food that would put me back on track with my eternal diet. I couldn’t really picture myself switching from broiled lobster and rum punch to chicken broth and celery sticks, so I thought about those twice-baked potatoes, and the more I thought about them, the more obsessed I became. I had to have them. Now.

I called Ellen, and she wasn’t home. I left a desperate, pleading message, but as the minutes ticked on (I’m really not the most patient person when it comes to culinary needs), I decided I’d just make up my own damn recipe. Truly not patient.

It’s amazing what you can do when you have the drive. You picture a dish, you think about the flavors and textures involved, and you look in the fridge and your pantry for a little inspiration. And you prepare yourself for pizza if it doesn’t work out. More often than not, you can come up with something that’s at least edible, and maybe you’ll make some notes as to what was missing, or what you had too much of, and the next time you make it, you’ll get closer to that ideal.

This particular dish wasn’t that much of a challenge – after all, there are lots of recipes out there for twice-baked potatoes, and what you’re adding is mostly carrots. In the end, I included a few items – like the onion and the garlic and the cream – that I’m pretty sure weren’t in Ellen’s dish, but this version turned out so well that I had to practically slap my husband’s hands to hang onto enough of the filled spuds for a decent photograph the next day. And now I can share the recipe with you.

Kitchen Goddess note: I’m pretty sure Ellen used cheddar cheese in her recipe. I’ll bet that would be good, too. But herbed chèvre is what I had in my fridge, so herbed chèvre is what I used. You can try both and let me know what you liked. I did think the herbs added nice flavor.


Twice-Baked Potatoes with Carrots, Onion, and Goat Cheese



Makes 8 servings.

4 medium-sized (6-8 ounces each) russet potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut in ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)
2 cups carrots, cut in ½-inch dice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chicken broth
2 ounces goat cheese (herbed or plain)
¼ cup cream (heavy or light)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
Garnish: chopped chives

Special equipment: potato masher or ricer or food mill, for mashing the potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 425º (400º if using a convection setting). Scrub the potatoes under cold running water and pat dry. With a fork, poke holes in 3-4 places around the potatoes, to let moisture escape during baking. Place potatoes directly on a rack in center of the oven, and bake 50-60 minutes or until a fork or a metal skewer easily goes into the potato. (The Kitchen goddess prefers a skewer because she can poke it the length of the spud, making sure it’s soft all the way through.)

While the potatoes are baking, heat the butter in a medium skillet and add the onion. Cook the onion over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until it’s soft, then add the carrots and garlic. Continue to sauté the vegetables for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth, bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook the vegetables, covered, for 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Check occasionally to make sure the liquid stays at a simmer.




Transfer the skillet mixture – including any broth – to the bowl of a food processor. Add the goat cheese and process until smooth. Set aside until the potatoes are done.

When the potatoes are done, let them cool enough to handle, then cut them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to gently scoop out the potato flesh, leaving enough potato in the shell that it stays intact. Put the potato flesh into a large bowl and, using your tool of choice, mash until the texture is as lumpy or smooth as you prefer. Food processors are not recommended for this part, as they turn potatoes gummy.

Add the processed carrot mixture to the mashed potatoes, along with the cream, the salt, and 10-12 grinds of black pepper. Stir well. Fill the potato shells with the mixture and arrange the filled shells on a baking sheet.


If you’ll be serving the potatoes soon, put the filled shells into the oven at 400º for 20 minutes. If you prefer to make them ahead of time, the filled shells can rest in the refrigerator, covered tightly with cellophane wrap, overnight, then reheated at 400º for 30-40 minutes, until warm. The filled shells can also be frozen on a cookie sheet, to maintain their shape, then stored in the freezer in zip-lock bags. Reheat as noted above.

When ready to serve, garnish with chopped chives, if desired.




2 comments:

  1. Leslie Davis GuccioneMarch 9, 2015 at 8:03 PM

    A great read! And as my Facebook post proves, a great recipe. 2 made it tonight, hours after reading it. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the boost, Les. And I'm thrilled that they're making it!

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