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Potato Skins

This game day staple, topped with cheddar cheese and lots of bacon, will be a huge hit at your March Madness party!

March is so full of promise: the air gets warmer, flower buds start forming on trees, and the days continue getting a little longer. I love those first few weeks, just before spring officially kicks off (you know, the time just before allergies start really acting up): not just because of the change in temperature.

It’s the promise of Selection Sunday. A day of new beginnings and fresh starts. A day of celebration and triumph. The day when we can start creating our masterpiece-worthy bracket.

I love March Madness. I also love typical bar food: greasy, delicious finger food. In honor of one of our favorite holidays, we’ve decided to make March a month of appetizers with bacon as one of the ingredients.

This month we’re kicking it off right with Potato Skins. I love making these because that means I control the amount of cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Restaurants tend to go stingy on the toppings. They’re pretty simple (albeit time consuming), but totally worth it!

Here’s the recipe I’ve used in the past. This is my own recipe that I throw together. Adapt the measurements to your liking.

Potato Skins
Makes 12 Servings

Ingredients:
6 Potatoes
⅛ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt (or seasoned salt)
½ tsp garlic powder
⅛ tsp pepper
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced green onion
sour cream

Directions:
1. Clean potatoes well. Bake them in oven until fully cooked and mushy (about 1-1.5 hrs at 375 degrees). They should give when you squeeze them.
2. Let them cool  for at least 20 minutes.
3. Slice potatoes in half. Scoop out inside of potatoes to about ¼ inch thick (or more if you like thicker potato skins-really, it’s a matter of taste). You can make mashed potatoes out of the inside, so save those for dinner.
4. Brush both sides of the potato (skin and inside) with the oil mixture. Go heavier on the skin than on the inside. Place on a cookie sheet.
5. Place in the oven, which should be heated to 450 degrees. Bake for 8 minutes. Flip them, and bake for another 5-10 minutes. You’ll want to make sure these are completely cooked. No one wants to bite into a raw potato.
6. While potatoes are in the oven, cook bacon (as much bacon as you’d like-this is a topping for the potato skins). Crumble and/or chop bacon and set aside. Note: It’s ok if you do this earlier and the bacon completely cools.
6. Remove potatoes from the oven. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon crumbles. Really, as much as you want-go nuts.
7. Place cheesed and baconed potato skins back in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.
8. Remove from oven, sprinkle green onion on top, and serve with sour cream.

Rate it!:
Rating: A (love these things!)
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cost: Roughly $14.00
Cost per Serving: $1.16
Bad Breath Factor: Bring gum-this has onions.

Suggestions:
1. If you are using large potatoes, you might want to quarter the potatoes rather than just cutting them in half. That way, the skins are more manageable and bite sized.
2. I prefer to use seasoned salt instead of regular salt-but either works!
3. You can bake the potatoes and cook the bacon that morning. It's ok to do that part early. 
4. Some people like to change up their toppings. I’ve seen chili and jalapenos used before. Not my thing, but some people swear by it. 

Enjoy these with a beer and some friends as you cheer for your favorite team in just a few more days! Let me know if you like them, or if you adapt them in any way. I’m always looking for new ideas!

Enjoy, Ballston and Virginia Square!

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