So, a gabillion years ago, I worked in a restaurant that was well known among those in the lunch-hour-know for it's twice baked potatoes. They were a significant part of my employment, those potatoes. Most of the time I worked the morning shift, where we prepped food for the day. Each morning a few people would work potato duty and get busy washing, steaming, slicing, scooping, mixing, stuffing and topping several hundred potatoes. It was a ritual I grew to look forward to - and whose efforts I enjoyed nearly every day or two for three years. Those damn potatoes were delicious. I know, I ate them for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. I've actually dreamt about dipping those potatoes in ranch dressing.... good times....
This story has nothing to do with the recipe - but since I have your attention - I'm gonna tell it to you anyway. One morning while I was scooping the aforementioned potatoes, I discovered exactly how small the world really is... it was truly an early morning epiphany, it was, I swear. I was scooping potatoes with two girls, we'll call them Ellen & Debbie, because those are their names (lol). We were talking about places we had lived before our meeting in Aggieland. I had lived in three places - Bartlesville (OK), London, and Houston. Ellen chimed in and shared that she spent her childhood in B'ville and lived one street behind me. We were backyard-diagonal-neighbors. Our dads played on the same company softball team. We were one grade apart and attended the same elementary school - yet we'd never met.
I mentioned we lived in London for a couple of years and I went to American Community School. Debbie did too. In 1976, just like me. She lived right next to St. John's Wood (where we lived) and shopped at Panser's grocery and played at the King's Church playground and cemetery. I played in that cemetery almost every day. We bought popsicles at the same stand on High Street, half a world away. Again, she was one year older than me, we attended the same school and we had never met. Uh, spooky.
I couldn't believe the coincidence that the three of us would be connected in such a random way. Surely there had to be a reason we were all standing there, right? I suppose ultimately it made me realize you can't escape crossing paths again and again with certain people in life... if you run, they will haunt you. If you hide, they will hunt you down. If they catch you, you'll end up scooping potatoes together at 8am on a Tuesday.
Anyway, back to business - here's my take on the old Grapevine Bistro's twice baked potatoes. We made those potatoes with an industrial butter substitute called Whirl. I have no idea what exactly it was (and I don't really want to) so I did my best to recreate it's mystery creamy goodness. Of course you can/should adjust the filling ingredients to your own tastes - these measurements are just a guideline to get you started.
INGREDIENTS: Serves 4
- 4 potatoes, medium
- 4 Tbsp. sour cream
- 4 Tbsp. greek yogurt
- 8 Tbsp. butter
- 4 Tbsp. bacon bits
- 4 oz. muenster cheese, cubed
- 8 oz. swiss cheese, cubed
- 2 Tbsp. minced onions
- salt and pepper to taste
First, let's bake those potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash each potato and generously rub each potato with olive oil. It's okay to get them all oily - that will make the skin crisp up. Shake kosher salt all over potato skin. Set potatoes directly on rack inside the oven. Cook for one hour. Remove potatoes when they "give" when you squeeze them.
Let potatoes cool for about 5 minutes. Hold a potato with an oven mitt while it's still warm and slice a sliver off of one side. Gently scoop the potato pulp into a bowl leaving about 1/4" of potato attached to the skin. Scoop out each potato and combine potato filling with butter, sour cream, yogurt, bacon bits, minced onions, and salt and pepper until creamy. Mix in half of the cubed swiss cheese to the potato mixture. Spoon mixture back into each of the potato skins and line up in an oven-proof dish. Top each potato with remaining swiss cheese and muenster cheese cubes. (The potatoes can be refrigerated for later use at this point.) For the second baking - just reheat in a 400F oven for approximately 20 minutes until cheese is all bubbly and browning.