Monday, January 24, 2011

Moreish Potato Skins

This weekend, I experimented with making potato skins. I filled them with guacamole, spicy tomato salsa, grated mature cheddar and sour cream – the effect was a light, delicious explosion of textures and flavours. While a little more work than I expected, they were really seriously enjoyed by guests and come highly recommended. I would definitely make them again!

Here's how to make them:

Slather large potatoes in olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and bake as usual.(Bargain on at least 2 per person.) Once golden brown and soft on the inside (you may want to turn them), remove from the oven and allow to cool for a while so you can handle them. Halve and remove the flesh with a teaspoon (set it aside, I've got another recipe* for it!), keeping the skins intact. Return them to the baking sheet, hollows facing downwards. Sprinkle with some more salt (go easy depending on how much you put on originally) and paprika or a herb of your choice. Brush with a little more olive oil and place under a hot grill. When they look like they've darkened (watch them, this can happen quickly), remove from the oven and allow to cool a little. You'll find they crisp up even more as they cool. Fill with whatever you want, but I highly recommend the Mexican inspired ingredients I used.

Try this simple tomato salsa:

For a salsa for four people, finely chop half a red onion, half a sweet red pepper, and a variety of ripe tomatoes (I like plum cherry tomatoes and larger rosa tomatoes). Add salt and pepper to taste plus real chilli or Tabasco to suit your palette. You'll find it needs some acidity, so add a drop of lemon juice or white wine/apple cider vinegar. Leave in the fridge so the flavours and juices can combine.

* So, you have some cooked spud flesh – and lots of it if you've made the skins for a few people! There are lots of options, from a rough mash that can be slathered in gravy or the makings of a potato suffle, to potato rosties, which is what I made. I sauteed half a white onion until soft and transparent, adding two cloves of crushed garlic near the end. I mashed this into the potato (the flesh of about 8 large potatoes) with some salt, pepper and a teaspoon of mixed herbs. I'm yet to perfect the rosti, so I decided to make one big one! I used our large Le Creuset skillet, oiled it lightly and patted the potatoes down, sprinkling a layer of grated Parmesan on top. I put the skillet on a medium-hot stove top to brown the bottom of the rosti, before putting it into the oven to brown the top. It was delicious, served with marinated lamb chops grilled on the braai, and a rough Greek salad.

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