When I was growing up in Houston, Texas, there was a fast food restaurant where I loved to eat in the upscale mall called The Galleria. The Galleria is still there. In fact, it’s expanded to include three or four different phases. But, at the time, there was only just the main building in that area, and a Joske’s department store across the street. My favorite eatery served immense baked potatoes, filled with all manner of deliciousness. Two of my favorites were Beef Stroganoff and Broccoli and Cheese but, of course, one could also get a more traditional spud with cheese/bacon/green onion/sour cream fixings.
The potatoes were baked to perfection, fluffy on the inside with a lovely crunchy thick outside, seasoned with just the right amount of salt. As much as I loved the inside and the fillings, I’m not sure I didn’t love the outside more. Truly, is there anything better than an Idaho® Russet for a baked potato?
Ever since, I've looked for delightful ways to fill baked potatoes and make them into whole meals. Today I share this favorite recipe in honor of a special man I have had the privilege to work with over the last year and meet personally in May at Food Wine Conference 2016 in Orlando. You might know him as Dr. Potato but his real name is Don Odiorne, and he's the smart, charming top potato head at the Idaho® Potato Commission.
It’s Don’s 70th birthday today so Sunday Supper is organizing a surprise party! Joining us in sending Happy Birthday greetings to Don on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #HappyBirthdayDrPotato from 8-10 a.m. ET.
And, if you feel so inclined, please share one of your favorite potato recipes as well.
4 large russet potatoes
1 beef stock cube
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 lbs or 560g ground beef - not too lean!
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1/2 cup or 70g frozen peas - we like the young, tender petits pois
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Parsley to garnish - optional
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.
Scrub your baking potatoes clean, poke them a few times with a fork and put them in the oven to bake for 1 hour.
In a 2-cup or 480ml (or larger) measuring cup, dissolve the stock cube in 1/2 cup or 120ml boiling water. Leave to cool.
Peel and chop your onion. Peel and cube your carrot. Remove the peas from the freezer and leave to thaw.
Meanwhile, drizzle the olive oil in a frying pan and start browning the beef.
When the beef has a lot of lovely browned crispy edges, add the chopped onion. Cook over medium fire until the onion turns translucent. Drain oil if necessary.
Add in chopped carrots with 1/4 cup or 60ml water. Cover and cook till tender.
Once the stock cube water is cool, whisk in the cornstarch. Add another cup of cool water to the measuring cup and stir well.
Pour the stock cube/corn starch mixture into the beef pot. Yes, it is an alarming white color. Just stay with me. All the browned bits on the meat turn it into a lovely brown gravy. Cook over a slow fire until it thickens.
Add the peas and cook for a few more minutes.
Finally, add the Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cut the hot baked potatoes down the middle and use a napkin or towel to hold them while you push them open from the ends.
Fluff up the insides with a fork, stretching the sides open to hold more filling.
Spoon the filling into the potatoes. Serve with extra Worcestershire sauce on the side. If you want to make shepherd's pie stuffed baked potatoes, substitute ground lamb.
And since this is a special occasion, go ahead and add a little parsley to garnish.
Happy birthday, Don! I wish you many happy returns of the day!