If you're not from the US, the idea of baking a potato twice may sound like a gimmick at best, but rest assured there's no hyperbole in the name. During the first bake, the potato is wrapped in foil and cooked through. This ensures the flesh stays nice and moist. Then, the potato is carved out of the shell and mixed with butter, scallions, yogurt and cheese before being stuffed back into the shell. Sound good so far? Finally, it's topped with crisp bacon and more cheese before going back in the oven for a second bake. The second trip into the oven not only melts and crisps the cheese, it crisps the skin as well.
With a creamy filling that tastes like sour cream and chive potato chips and a crisp bacon and cheese exterior, twice baked potatoes make for a filling meal on their own or a decadent side. While they're obviously best straight out of the oven, they make for pretty good picnic food as well. Think of them as a cheesier self-contained potato salad.
To give the filling just a little more oomph, I like to caramelize the scallions in the butter before mixing them into the potatoes. It's not that much more work since you have to melt the butter anyway, and the resulting twice-baked spud have a depth of flavor that you just wouldn't get from including raw scallions.
I also like to line the baking sheet with parchment paper. This not only makes cleanup a snap, it prevents the cheese that melts down the sides of the potato from sticking, giving you a crisp cheese cracker underneath each potato.
TIP: When making a small amount of thick-cut bacon, it's easiest to crisp it in the microwave. Just put down a triple layer of paper towels on a microwave safe plate, cover with a single layer of bacon, and then top with another triple layer of paper towels. Finish by stacking another plate on top to weigh the bacon down. Microwave at 800 watts for 2 minutes. Check the bacon and if it is not crisp yet, microwave for another minute. Thin bacon has a tendency to stick to the paper towels, so I don't recommend using this method if your bacon isn't thick.
- Wrap the potatoes in foil and bake in a 350 degree F (170 C) oven until a toothpick easily passes through (about 40-50 minutes).
- While the potatoes bake, mince the green parts and white parts of the scallion separately.
- Put the butter in a small saucepan along with the salt and white parts of the scallions and saute until the scallions are browned. They go from browned to burned pretty quickly so keep a close eye on the pan.
- Crisp the bacon and crumble.
- When the potatoes are done, let the potatoes cool enough to handle and then unwrap them.
- Figure out how the potatoes sit best, and then slice off the top 1/4 of the potato.
- Use a small spoon to scoop out the interior of the potatoes, but be sure to leave about 1/4-inch (6mm) of potato attached to the skin. If you get too ambitious with the scrapping, your potato won't hold it's shape. Be sure to scrape out all the potato from the lids and discard the skin.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the scallion butter, yogurt, and half the cheese to the potatoes and mix together. I prefer to have some chunks of potatoes left, so I don't completely mash them.
- Spoon the mixture back into the potatoes, making sure you get it into the nooks and crannies. Once all the potatoes are filled, spoon the remaining potato mixture on top of each potato to make a mound. Place the potatoes on the parchment lined baking sheet.
- Press the crumbled bacon into the tops of the potatoes, and then divide the remaining cheese between the potatoes.
- Bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown (about 15 minutes). Top with the green parts of the scallions and serve.