Twice-Baked Potatoes with Irish Cheddar by Rick Tramonto

April 27, 2010 (CHICAGO) Serves 4

I have always found these to be crowd pleasers, whether I am making dinner for a group of friends or for Eileen and our three boys. The potatoes are terrific alongside grilled steak or any other meat, and they can be prepared up to a day ahead of time and refrigerated before the second baking. I like Irish Cheddar with them, but any other Cheddar would be delicious, or even feta or goat cheese. Have fun with it!

4 large russet potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
three-quarters cup half-and-half
one-half cup sour cream, plus additional for serving
1 and one-half cups shredded Irish Cheddar cheese or your favorite Cheddar
one-quarter cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
one-fourth cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes under cold, running water, pat dry, and rub with the olive oil. Pierce several times with a fork and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, or until fork-tender. The potatoes may need a little more time, depending on their size. Remove the potatoes from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Let the potatoes cool until just cool enough to handle. Cut them lengthwise in half, taking care to keep the skins intact. Scoop the flesh from the skins and reserve the shells. Force the potato flesh through the medium disk of a food mill or a ricer into a bowl. Add the half-and-half, sour cream, 1 cup of the Cheddar, the scallions, and melted butter and mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon or pipe the potato mixture into the empty potato skin shells. Top with the remaining ½ cup Cheddar and the Parmesan. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. (At this point, the potatoes can be loosely covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Bake the potatoes for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Top each potato half with a tablespoon of sour cream and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.

—From Steak with Friends: At Home, with Rick Tramonto by Rick Tramonto with Mary Goodbody/Andrews McMeel Publishing

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