There was no post yesterday.
It was a long day.
Today's been long too, actually, but I'm forcing myself to ignore my to-do list and crying baby - just kidding, my baby's not crying, and I have not the ability to ignore her when she does cry; she's actually taken a break from crying (she's teething) in order to nap for a little while - and continue documenting the kitchen frenzy that has been going on all week.
We are super honored to have my friend Charlotte staying with us for ten days and her presence has been a huge help in getting food prepared, photographed, and recorded here. Not only does she love great, healthy food (and cookies) and appreciate my concoctions, which is motivation to cook in and of itself, but also, the moral support that casual, easy company provides is just priceless, as are extra eyes and hands, particularly when you have a monster baby who, if you turn away from her for one minute, manages to find the food processor in the one non-baby-proofed cupboard in our kitchen and gets her arm stuck in its chute. (For the record: The blades were safely stowed out of reach, so she was only afraid, not injured.)
I don't know about you, but we've gotten a lot of potatoes this year from our farm. In fact, we do every year. And in Minneapolis, I've not had luck storing them for v. long, I think because of the humidity here. I've heard a bucket of sand is a good place for potatoes, but where does one get sand?
In addition to throwing potatoes in just about every soup, egg dish, baby food puree, and slow cooker meal I've made lately in my efforts to use them, I also tried my hand at twice-baked potatoes last night - slow cooker style - and they were melt-in-your-mouth, yes-I-will-have-one-more-please delicious. I like potatoes because they go well with cheese and sour cream and butter. They are so original like that.
So, my recipe is a variation of one from this great, giant cookbook called Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. I don't know why it's called that, because I wouldn't consider its recipes especially contemporary or unique. But it's like a slow cooker bible. It has everything. Maybe your mother's doesn't.
Two final notes before I get to the recipe, which will also be followed by two notes: (1) Slow cookers are often taken out in the colder months of the year, which makes sense of course because they can be used to produce the kind of comfort food that you crave in winter (like twice-baked potatoes). But they use way less energy than an oven (560 watts for 8 hours of slow cooker vs. 2400 watts for 1 hour of oven) and they don't heat up your whole house when in use, so they are great for summer and fall too, particularly if you, like me, don't have a grill. So, yeah, that was just an FYI. (2) My crock-baked potatoes didn't get the crunchy, slightly browned tops that I wanted, so I stuck mine in the oven and broiled them for about five minutes before serving. That's the last step I included in the recipe, but it's not necessary if you are satisfied with a creamier, melty potato (as featured in middle before-and-after photos, on right).
Slow Cooker Twice Baked Potatoes
Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook
Yield: 10-12 stuffed potato halves (we each ate two)
6 small or medium baking potatoes, scrubbed, rinsed, but not dried (about 2 lbs)*
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sour cream
About 1/4 cup milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (I used 3/4 cup colby (melty) + 1/4 cup parmesan (salty))
1/4 cup minced red onion
Place each still-wet potato into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 5 hours, or LOW for 6 to 8 hours. To test for doneness, stick a knife in the end and make sure it gives a little and there's no crunch left.
Remove the potatoes from the slow cooker and cut each potato in half, lengthwise. Allow them to cool for a few minutes (this will make them less malleable and more handleable) before using a spoon to scoop out as much flesh from each potato half as you can without having the potato fall apart. (I had two casualties, and I just tore the skins off and dumped the flesh into the mixing bowl.) Put the flesh into a large mixing bowl and add the butter, sour cream, milk or cream, salt and pepper. Stir until the mixture reaches your preferred consistency, using either a fork, electric mixer, or potato masher (I used the latter). Add the cheese and minced red onion and stir until combined. Gently spoon the filling back into the shells (they will be v. overstuffed and fabulous). Return the potatoes to the slow cooker, arranging them in a single layer so that they are touching each other. Cover and cook on high for 60 minutes.
Remove from the cooker and either (a) eat immediately, sprinkled with snipped chives and crumbled, crispy bacon, if desired, or (b) place them in the oven and broil them for 5 minutes, until the tops get brown and crispy, and then sprinkle them with snipped chives and crumbled, crispy bacon, if desired.
* If you are buying potatoes from a store, they will probably be bigger than ours were. If your potatoes weigh more than 2 lbs., just add more sour cream, milk and butter proportionately.
1. If you want to make these in the oven instead of a slow cooker, there are good instructions for that at Simply Recipes.
2. If you want to freeze some or all of these, do so after you stuff the potatoes but before you put them back in the slow cooker. Wrap them individually, tightly in aluminum foil. Place them in a freezer bag and keep them for 1-3 months in the freezer. To cook them in the slow cooker, allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then remove the foil and follow final slow cooker step an hour before you want to eat. To cook them in the oven, don't remove the foil and don't thaw them. Preheat oven to 350. Bake 60-75 minutes.