I am a potato freak. It may or may not have anything to do with my Irish heritage, but I love, love, LOVE potatoes any way that I can get them. Fried, baked, boiled, roasted, whatever. When I was young, I was a picky eater and basically lived on potato and cheese perogies (the frozen ones, at home) and potato skins (at restaurants), both served smothered with mounds of sour cream. Yum.
Potatoes are also fantastic if you are watching your budget. We can get a 10 lb. bag of potatoes at our grocery store for about $5, and it really helps because my husband has a ferocious appetite, and would eat us out of house and home if I didn’t carefully plan our meals each week and fill him with carbs. Potatoes are cheap, they are generally nutritious depending on how you cook them, and can be prepared in nearly infinite ways.
The dish that I’m sharing with you today, Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Potatoes, is one that I could happily eat every day for the rest of my life. Crispy potato skins filled with fluffy, soft, cheesy filling studded with bacon, chives and broccoli? I don’t see how it could possibly get any better than that. I top mine with a dollop of sour cream – I am also a sour cream freak – and call it a perfect side dish.
This recipe easily doubles/triples/quadruples/etc. by simply increasing the quantities of the filling ingredients in relation to how many potatoes you need. These are perfect for a BBQ, served alongside a nice steak and a green salad. For my vegetarian friends, simply leave out the bacon and serve these with some vegetable kabobs or other delicious veggie dishes. I also like to make extra, and one potato half makes a fantastic weekday lunch.
After making these dozens of times, I’ve perfected my method and I have a couple of pointers for you:
- Have your grated cheese and butter ready in a bowl when you take the potatoes out of the oven, then scoop and mash the potatoes into that bowl. This ensures that the cheese and butter are evenly melted and distributed throughout. If you add the sour cream and broccoli first, the potatoes won’t be hot enough to melt anything.
- Steam your broccoli before adding it to the potatoes. I’ve added raw broccoli to the potato mixture, and as long as you cut the pieces small enough they will cook in the oven. However, this has resulted in a drier end result, as somehow the broccoli sucks up any excess moisture in the potato mixture as it cooks. Steam the broccoli first, and the filling stays moist and creamy.
Other than those little words of wisdom, this recipe is yours to adapt as you please. You can add any other steamed veggie to the mix, experiment with seasonings and herbs, and use any cheese you think would work. Ham in place of the bacon is good (I’ve tried it), and cauliflower in place of, or in addition to, the broccoli would probably be tasty. That’s the beauty of potatoes: they go with everything. Enjoy!
- 3 medium-large baking potatoes, such as Russets
- 1 cup old/sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 and ½ cups broccoli, chopped and steamed
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Leave the oven on.
- In a medium bowl, combine shredded cheese and butter. Cut potatoes in half and scoop flesh into bowl, leaving a little bit of flesh on the skins so they retain their shape. Mash the potatoes, cheese and butter until well blended and no lumps remain. Stir in sour cream, salt and pepper. Fold in cooked bacon, steamed broccoli and chopped chives.
- Fill potato skins with potato mixture, distributing evenly among all 6 skins. (Note: You can make these in advance up to this point. Cover and refrigerate filled skins for up to 1 day, and proceed with remaining steps when you are ready.) Transfer to a baking dish and return to oven for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and the tops are golden brown. Serve immediately with additional sour cream, if desired.