Twice-baked potatoes are potatoes that have been baked, cut in half, hollowed out, refilled with a mixture of the inner potato meat and other ingredients, and baked a second time. The filling used in twice-baked potatoes can vary greatly from one recipe to the next, although one classic example involves sour cream, scallions, bacon and cheddar cheese. Some recipes include a filling featuring vegetables such as broccoli, peas or corn, while other times the filling contains heavier ingredients such as heavy cream, bleu cheese or sour cream. Twice-baked potatoes can be served hot on a plate as a complete meal or as a side dish accompanying roasted meat or another entree.
The potatoes that are used to make twice-baked potatoes should be relatively large. This is because small potatoes might not be large enough to be hollowed out effectively and could collapse if the walls are too thin. The skins should be left on the potatoes, but they should be washed and dried thoroughly so the outside crisps while baking.
The first step in making twice-baked potatoes is to place the cleaned, dried potatoes on a baking sheet and bake them until they are tender all the way through. Poking holes in the potatoes halfway through the cooking time will help the steam that develops inside to escape without causing the skin to crack or the potato to rupture in the oven. Once done, the potatoes are allowed to cool until they can be handled easily, although they still should be warm.
The warm potatoes are then cut in half lengthwise. Alternately, the potatoes can be cut one-third of the way down, creating a more bowl-like shell, and the cut piece from the top can be saved and used as a lid. Whichever way the potatoes are cut, the insides are then carefully scooped out with a spoon, leaving some of the flesh along the walls so the shells do not collapse.
In a bowl, the flesh of the twice-baked potatoes can be mashed and mixed with other ingredients. These can include bacon, sour cream, sausage, cheese, heavy cream, spices such as chives or hot red pepper, and even diced vegetables. After the filling is thoroughly combined, it is carefully placed back in the potato shells. The potatoes can be topped with cheese at this point, if desired. The filled potatoes are placed back in the oven to cook again until the cheese has melted and the filling is fully cooked and hot.
The finished twice-baked potatoes can be allowed to cool a little before being served. They can be served as a side dish that is presented with roast beef, steak or another hearty entree, or twice-baked potatoes can be plated alone as an appetizer or main course. If being made in advance, the filling can be prepared, refrigerated and added to the shells for cooking just before serving time.