I recently heard a young woman say “I have earned my PhD, I figured out calculus, and admit that I am a wiz at Pinterest, but I can’t even do a decent baked potato.” So I took this as a sign to write about not only baked potatoes, but an easy potato recipe that would be worthy of a Pinterest post.
Times are changing. There was a time when you perfected or found a good recipe you would proudly submit it to the church, community, or workplace cookbook. Now days when you have swooned a recipe to perfection, you take a picture of it and post it for all the world to see. So here comes the duo– baked potato tips and a recipe worthy of a post.
Building a collection of tasty potato recipes isn’t too different from building collection of useful vintage mixing bowls. It starts with laying the foundation– with mixing bowls it would be the large yellow Pyrex bowl. With potato recipes is could be Aunt Mildred’s successful mashed potato recipe where she claims putting in the butter before the heavy cream will bring about a fluffy heavenly mound ready for gravy. Another tasty recipe could be crispy pan fried potatoes where the trick is not too much butter, and only turning the gathered souls once.
We are moving on to baked potato avenue – lots to experiment with here. I have to admit that I am not a microwave person; however, I have had a delicious moist baked potatoes from a microwave; the trick here is the new higher powered ovens. There is something wonderful about popping a potato in to cook and serving it minutes later with high fives from those gathered around the red gingham tablecloth. It is important to elevate the potato on a rack and cook until the outside feels slightly soft. Next, let it stand a few minutes to finish cooking before cutting into it. Think of it this way -we often take cookies out of the oven before they are completely done and let them stand to finish baking. The same rule applies here.
Since microwave potatoes are not cooked with hot, dry air, a perfected microwaved potato can retain savory moisture and can easily be served without butter and sour cream. Dressing it out with a dash of salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice makes it the perfect pal for the weight-conscious diner. The facts are in the numbers and a medium potato prepared in this manner contains approximately 100 calories. If you are planning to attend your class reunion and wish to slip back into your prom dress, this potato method will aid in your endeavors.
Are you a red or white baked potato person? While growing up in Underwood, each fall LeRoy Hoff would gather many students for a potato picking day. He grew wonderful potatoes west of town; his red potatoes were a favorite in our home. I can still recall the smell of those new potatoes, dirt, and gunny sacks. My mother preferred to not wrap potatoes– baking them uncovered at 350 degrees for an hour to create a crusty skin. Once the potato pulp was removed, we created a potato boat from the skins and they were delicious drizzled with butter. So preferring red or white is often a preference and being open to experience new varieties of potatoes is also fun. Yukon gold potatoes are a great example of venturing away from the traditional red or white. Their butter gold color and flavor is most inviting and offers us the chance to change up recipes by swapping out the traditional red or white for gold.
Potatoes are a favorite in the Repnow home. We enjoy potato soup, potato pancakes, and homemade hash browns, in addition to the usual baked and mashed. Miss Lydia continues to indulge in reminding me that “Dad there are many more potato recipes you can be trying out on mom and me.” So far, I have not heard this “There must be something else you can make with potatoes.” That must mean that different approaches are working to date.
We recently tried this Au Gratin potato recipe. After serving it, we decided that it could be a visitor again at our table. It has been added to our collection of tasty potato recipes.
Au Gratin Potatoes
This recipe comes from Roxann Hayhurst of Minot and was featured in Klebe Family cookbook, “Good Food is a Klebe Family Affair.”
2 pounds of potatoes (about 6 medium)
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserving 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 medium onion
1 to 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 cups milk
Wash and peel potatoes and cut into even thin slices. Cook and stir onion and butter in a 2-quart saucepan until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly, remove from heat. Stir in milk and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Heat to boiling with constant stirring and boil for 1 minute. Place potatoes in an ungreased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 1 hour. After potatoes have baked for 40 minutes remove them from oven and combine reserved 1/2 cup cheese with 1/4 cup bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of potatoes. Garnish with paprika and return to oven for the additional 20 minutes.