When you want something to warm up, what could be better than a crisp, fluffy baked potato? For me, it’s a mashed stuffed potato studded with broccoli florets and crowned with a melted cheddar cheese topping. This is the dish you may want to eat on a chilly day: It’s creamy, comforting and satisfying. It’s not bad, either, if you’ve had a tough day. Sometimes we just need a dish that answers our wish for our well-being and contentment.
Easy to make up ahead and just finish in a hot oven, this potato-vegetable mashup is wonderful as an entree on its own (especially if you choose to do a whole potato for each serving) or as a side to any simple chicken, fish or meat dish. This is also a wonderful luncheon main course served along with a crisp green salad. Choose medium sized russet baking potatoes for the best texture and even cooking time. Rubbing the potatoes with vegetable oil will help crisp the skin.
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You can either split these baked spuds in two or just cut off the top of the potato to produce either 4 or 8 servings. The potato pulp should be hot when mashed with butter, milk and cheese; then stuffed back into the potato skin. Make sure to keep a thin potato barrier when you scoop out the pulp so the potato skin will not split and stays intact.
The potato filling is enhanced with broccoli florets that add a slightly crisp textural complement. You can put your own signature on this American classic with different melting cheeses and other vegetables like mushrooms or zucchini.
Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Potatoes
Serves 4 to 8
- 1 pound broccoli, stems removed and florets cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 Crisp Baked Potatoes, hot (see below)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup milk, heated
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch white pepper
- 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for topping
1. Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, partially covered for 5 to 7 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Remove from the heat and cool. Reserve.
2. Cut an oval on the top of the potato and remove the peel. Or alternately cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out all but a thin shell of the potato. Pass the scooped out potato through a potato ricer or mash it with a potato masher in a medium mixing bowl. Add the butter, milk, cheese, salt and pepper and mix vigorously with a spoon to combine. Add the broccoli and mix gently. Taste for seasoning.
3. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells, making sure to mound attractively on top. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly across the tops of the potatoes.
4. Preheat an oven to 400 F. Place the stuffed potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to15 minutes, or until the potatoes are hot and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately.
Crisp Baked Potatoes
- Medium baking potatoes (about 1/2 pound each)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or 4 teaspoons oil
1. Preheat an oven to 425 F. Scrub the potatoes until all dirt is removed. Dry carefully. Rub each potato with a teaspoon of oil until they are evenly covered. Place the potatoes on a foil baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
2. Prick with a knife or skewer to test for doneness. Remove from the oven. They should be cooked through and slightly crisp. Continue with the previous recipe for broccoli cheese stuffed potatoes.
Note: For extra crispness bake at 450 F.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)