Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bonfire Night Baked Potatoes, two ways

A time-honored Guy Fawkes night tradition is to bake potatoes in the embers of the celebratory bonfires.  Here are two variations on the baked potato; one suitable for ember-baking (perhaps at the Hill Weekend bonfire?), and the other for warming up at home after the festivities.  Both easily become vegetarian, through the simple omission of bacon!

adapted from

These made our kitchen smell amazing.  Allow one Russet potato per person, and choose any combination of the following fillings, or come up with your own; just remember that the potato halves must be pressed together and baked, so fillings should be relatively flat and dry.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Per potato:

  • A thin slice of the cheese or your choice: cheddar, provolone, Stilton, Manchego, Gruyere, Herdsman, you name it...
  • About 1/2 slice bacon, chopped and fried crisp
  • A few crumbles of browned sausage
  • About 1 Tablespoon of tinned tuna
  • About 1 teaspoon finely chopped red, yellow, or green onion
  • A small sprig of fresh rosemary, or thyme, or parsley
  • A couple thin slices of fresh garlic, or a smear of roasted garlic
  • A couple thin slices of Jalapeno
Scrub potatoes, and cut each one in half lengthwise.  Each potato gets its own piece of aluminum foil; put one half, skin side down, in the center of the foil.  Place a slice of cheese, some crumbles of bacon, a bit of onion, and a sprig of rosemary on top (or, you know, whatever fillings you're using).  Sprinkle with:
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Top with the other half of the potato, and, taking care to keep the fillings between the two halves, wrap very tightly in the foil.  Place potato parcels on a baking sheet and bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until tender.  (Alternatively, bury parcels in hot embers until done!)

from BBC Good Food Magazine

serves 4

4 medium baking potatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely sliced
6 slices smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 tbsp double cream
1 cup good melting cheese, grated (Gruyere, Cheddar, Raclette, etc.)
chopped parsley, to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prick the potatoes all over with a fork, then rub with the oil, some sea salt and black pepper.  Arrange on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 1 hr 15 mins, until their skins are crisp and they are completely tender when prodded.

fry chopped bacon in a frying pan until just crisp.  Remove using a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper.  Add the onion to the hot pan and gently cook for 15-20 mins until softened and golden.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  (If you aren't using bacon, you can cook the onion in another Tablespoon each of butter and olive oil.)

Halve each potato lengthways (watch out, they will be hot), then scoop out most of the potato into a bowl, leaving a potato skin shell with a thin layer of potato.  In the bowl, crush the potato with the butter and the double cream.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold through the onion, bacon, three-quarters of the cheeses and half the parsley. 

Spoon back into the potato shells and top with the remaining cheese.  Transfer to the baking tray and return to the oven for 10-15 mins, until melting and golden.  Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with a sharply dressed crisp salad, if you like.

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