Twice Baked Potato Casserole

September 2014 152I love twice baked potatoes, but sometimes I just want to load it all into a casserole dish and call it good.  If you’re looking for a twist on the usual mashed potatoes for the holidays, then look no further!

November 2014 039

However, if you’re in the mood to make them the traditional way (inside their skins), simply scoop the potato mixture into reserved potato skins and bake them off.

September 2014 166

I think twice baked potatoes go with everything.  Hamburgers.  Steak.  Meatloaf.  Brisket.  Shrimp.  Chicken.  Turkey.  And they’re flexible – you can even add green chili peppers or roasted garlic.  Yum!

Twice Baked Potatoes

6 jumbo russet potatoes

1 1/2 (12 ounces) packages of cream cheese

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

4 1/2 cups freshly shredded Colby Jack cheese, divided

1 1/2 cups (14 ounces) of sour cream

8-10 strips of bacon (I like Smoked Applewood) cooked and roughly chopped*

8 green onions, chopped (green and white parts – just trim off both ends first before chopping)

salt and pepper to taste

good sprinkling of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub the potatoes and poke them all over with a fork (to prevent them from exploding in your oven).  Dry them well, and then rub them with canola oil and coarse kosher salt.  Set potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until done.  To check them, simply take an oven mitt and squeeze the potato – it should give quite a bit and feel like the inside it a bit mushy.

Take them out and carefully cut them down the middle.  Allow the steam to escape and the potatoes to cool down a little before proceeding.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle (holding the potato half with an oven mitt), use a spoon to scoop the inside of the potato into a large mixing bowl.  Continue until all of the potato skins are empty.  At this point discard all of the potato skins (if making the casserole) or set them aside to fill.

Add the butter to the potatoes, along with the cream cheese and using a potato masher mix together.  Then add the sour cream, bacon, and green onions.  Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Add 3 cups of shredded cheese and mash together.  Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Once you are happy with the seasoning of the potatoes, spoon them into a large casserole dish and spread out into an even layer and top with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees, until the casserole is warm and the cheese is melted about 30-45 minutes.  Serve hot.  Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

*I prefer to cook my bacon in the oven on a half sheet pan (with a rim).  Preheat the oven to 350 and place bacon strips next to each other in an even layer (don’t stack them) and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.

**Update (4/5/2015) Today was Easter and yikes(!) I didn’t have any russet potatoes, so I used a 5 pound bag of Yukon Gold Potatoes instead.  I peeled them and boiled them until fork tender.  I then drained them in a colander, and returned them to their pot and mashed them over medium heat to evaporate any residual water.  I took them off the stove, and mashed in the following:

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese

1 cup of sour cream

2 1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

5 green onions, chopped

8-9 slices of cooked bacon (I used Applewood), chopped

salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

cayenne pepper, to taste

Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle an additional 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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