This week’s challenge was to serve, as a meal, a stuffed baked potato. To be honest, I didn’t consider this to be much of a challenge. I love baked potatoes, and I have made stuffed potatoes many times before. But my husband said he wanted something different than the usual toppings, so I tried to get creative with this recipe. I also learned a new technique for crisping prosciutto, which definitely made the challenge worthwhile.
These were some really big potatoes! I made two, but my husband and I could only eat 1½ between us, so I had leftovers for lunch the next day. They were delicious as well as filling. We both agreed that this challenge was a success. (My toddler won’t touch potatoes unless they are of the french-fried variety, so he doesn’t get a vote this week.)
For the stuffing, I decided to go a bit upscale. Truthfully, I looked in my fridge and based the stuffing on what I already needed to use up. I combined sauteed spinach, sauteed mushrooms, crispy prosciutto, and gruyere cheese. The flavor combination was outstanding, and I felt like together these ingredients made for a more-or-less balanced meal.
I wanted to add something crispy like bacon to the stuffing, but not use bacon. I had some prosciutto in my fridge already, and I found this technique for crisping it like bacon. It worked beautifully. Now that I know how to do it, I will definitely be adding crispy prosciutto to scrambled eggs, salads, soups, and whatever else I can think of.
When I was shopping for this challenge, I found gigantic potatoes at the grocery store. They were as big as footballs, seriously. If you use reasonably sized potatoes, half a potato would make a great side dish as well. And this recipe is completely open to adaptation, just by varying what you stuff the potatoes with. But please, do use cheese. You have to have cheese on baked potatoes, in my opinion.
Here’s the recipe. I don’t have exact amounts for the ingredients, so you’ll have to wing it. But that only makes this recipe easier to scale up or down.
Twice-Baked Potatoes Stuffed with Spinach, Mushrooms, Crispy Prosciutto & Gruyere Cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Figure on ½-1 russet potato per serving, depending on whether you’re serving this as an entree or side dish. Scrub the potatoes well and prick in several places with a fork. Rub them with olive oil. Place directly on the oven rack to bake until they give when gently squeezed, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Arrange the prosciutto slices (about 1 per potato) on a wire rack and place that on top of a baking pan. Slide the whole thing into the oven. Roast for 7 minutes and set aside to cool. The prosciutto will crisp up even more as it cools. Save the baking pan, as you’ll need it later.
Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add sliced cremini or button mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and turn brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside in a bowl and return the skillet to the heat.
Add a little more olive oil, if needed. Put some baby spinach in the skillet (as much as you think you’ll need). Season and saute until the spinach wilts. Set aside with the mushrooms.
The potatoes should now be cool enough to handle. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a shell of about ½-inch thickness. In a bowl, mash the potato flesh with butter, sour cream, and milk. Use your judgment for how much you need to achieve a creamy texture. I usually use 1 tablespoon of each per potato. Stir in shredded gruyere cheese, the reserved spinach and mushrooms, and the prosciutto, crumbled. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully mound the potato filling into each potato shell. Top with a little more shredded Gruyere. Place the potato halves on the baking sheet and return to the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are heated through and browned in spots, and the cheese is all melted. Enjoy.