Just when you thought a baked potato couldn't get any better, it did.
In a world where people eat food out of carved pineapples, halved eggplants, and hollowed-out coconuts, the OG food boat will always be the potato skin. I don’t know whose idea it was to carve out a baked potato, fill the crispy-skinned hull with meat, cheese, veggies, or whatever you dang want, then return it to the oven for one final bake, but that person is a genius. Not only is making potato skins insanely easy, it’s fun and super cheap snack to feed a group. Fairly new to the potato skin life (i.e. the good life)? Here’s the best way to turn your spuds into a potato skin masterpiece.
To start, you’ll need to...bake your potatoes. I’m sure you didn’t see that coming. As far as which kind of potato you choose, that’s largely up to you. If you want to stick with a white-flesh tater, russets are your best option, but if you want to do sweet potatoes, those work, too. Take your scrubbed spuds, pierce them liberally with a fork, and place them directly on the middle rack of a 400° to 450° oven. The potatoes are done when the skins look crispy and you can easily pierce the potato with a knife (about 1 hour or so, depending on the size of your potatoes). Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool for at least 10 minutes. Have you ever heard of the game “Hot Potato?” It is based on true events—be careful when handling these baked ‘taters. While your potato is cooling, set your oven to a high broil.
Once your potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the inside, leaving about a ¼-inch-thick layer of potato inside the skin. This scooped-out potato flesh can be used to make mashed potatoes or utilized in soups, casseroles, tacos, egg scrambles, or really any situation that could use a little extra starchy love. Once your skins are carved out to perfection, brush melted butter or olive oil all over the inside and outside of each skin. You are Pablo Picasso and these skins are your canvas—go absolutely wild. Season with salt and pepper, and return the skins—spread a couple inches apart and skin side up on a baking sheet—to the oven for 2-3 minutes. You want to see the butter start to bubble and the skins crisp up slightly. Flip the skins and let them cook for another 2-3 minutes.
This is where things get interesting. Remove your crispy skins from the oven and fill them with your desired fillings. Anything from bacon, sausage, pepperoni, cheddar, fontina, gorgonzola, beans, chili, to an egg is fair game here. If you can dream it, you can fill your potato skins with it and call it a day. Return your loaded spud to the oven for another 4-5 minutes, or until whatever luscious cheese you decided to add is completely melted. Remove your creations from the oven, give them a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh chives if you so choose, and take those beauteous food boats of yours for the ride of their lives.