Fussy, but worth it
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twice-baked breakfast potatoes
Credit: Photo by Stacey Ballis

In a million years I could never tell you my favorite style of potato, for me it is Sophie’s Choice, to honor the fry over the tot, the baked over the mashed, the casserole over the hasselback. But if you asked me the type of potato that I find the most nostalgic, it would be the twice-baked. It’s the best marriage of baked, mashed and loaded skin that one might ever imagine.

I like them simple, the innards just mashed with butter and sour cream, or infused with the complications of bacon and cheese. They're heavenly when broiled to golden brown goodness with perhaps a smattering of chives, and glorious if sealed with a stretchy lid of cheese weeping tiny glistening droplets of oily happiness.

But why should a twice-baked potato simply be a dinnertime accompaniment to a fine prime steak? When you think about breakfast, potatoes are a key component. How to make a twice-baked that is breakfasty?

I started with my personal recipe, where I mash the fluffy potato innards with a combination of butter and chive cream cheese and shreds of sharp cheddar. Where I might have put bacon crumbles, I opted for small cubes of ham. Thinking about how many of my pals like a little shake of something spicy in their morning eggs, I brushed a thin coating of hot sauce over the hollowed out potato before putting in a layer of the filling. In the center of this scrumptious smash, I nestled a hard-boiled egg, discovering to my delight that potatoes tend to have a narrower end and a wider end, just like an egg, making for a perfect pairing. I covered the egg with more mash, sealing it in, in Scotch egg fashion, and topped with more cheddar before popping them in the oven.

The result was a one-stop shop for morning joy, your egg, meat and potato all in one rich buttery cheesy packet, redolent of chive and slightly tangy, with just a bit of back of the throat heat to wake you up. It isn’t a quick weekday morning meal, but more of a Sunday morning indulgence. Being a compact package, it wouldn’t be untoward to eat these potatoes in bed. It would be friends with a Bloody Mary for sure. You can assemble them ahead and then bake a day or two later, so while they are a bit fussy, they are totally worth it—a little potato celebration for your next brunch.

Twice Baked Breakfast Potatoes

Serves 4, but the recipe scales up and down

Ingredients

4 medium to large russet potatoes, baked or steamed until a knife goes in smoothly, and cooled until you are able to handle with bare hands
4 hard boiled eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
4 tablespoons chive cream cheese (or sour cream), room temp
1 cup finely shredded cheese of your choosing, I used sharp cheddar, divided
4 ounces cubed ham (you can sub crumbled cooked bacon or breakfast sausage here, or go meatless)
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

2. Slice about 1/2 inch off the top of each potato, lengthwise, to create a boat-shape. Remove the peel from this slice, and put the potato part into a medium bowl, discarding the skins. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the potato boats, leaving about ½ inch of potato all around the inside, and adding the scooped potato to the bowl. When you have all of the potatoes hollowed, season them with salt and pepper, and if you like a bit of heat, brush the insides with a thin slick of the hot sauce of your choice, and set aside.

3. Add the softened butter and cream cheese to the potato, and using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash the potatoes till well blended, they will still be a bit chunky. Stir in the ham and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese until well mixed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

4. With your hand or a spoon, carefully make a layer of filling on the inside of each potato boat about a ½ inch thick or so. You should have room to place an egg in the center of each, nestled down in the filling. Again with your hand or a spoon, place more filling on top of each egg, molding it into a domed shape that essentially turns the potato back into a rounded orb. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the potatoes, pressing lightly to get it to stick to the mash. Bake on a foil-lined sheet pan for 30-40 minutes until heated through and the cheese is golden and bubbly.

5. If you want to make them ahead, assemble through the cheese topping, then store in the fridge in a covered container for up to 3 days. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before baking.