I once read a cookbook that declared that inside everyone is a potato sized hole that needs filling. On the face this is ridiculous, how can you everyone eat only ONE potatoes worth of food at dinner, the restaurant industry would collapse. Regardless, for one reason or another this image has stuck inside my head.
Using the potato as a unit of measure strangely works: some people are small potatoes, some are one potato and some are two potatoes. Using it as a tool to help you pre-visualize how much food you need personally in a serving, can save you much guilt and perhaps some food waste. Often I will make an recipe for something that is labeled as a side dish for 4 people, and in my kitchen it will end up being two dinner servings. A recipe that serves two could end up being one whole serving or even a half a serving.
While we are on the subject of potatoes. A steamed or baked potato will keep 5 to 7 days in the fridge, so cooking a few ahead of time saves a lot of energy and bother. Especially if you do it at the beginning of the week. Whenever you are baking something in the oven, toss in a few baking potatoes to make use of the energy. Generally a baked russet takes 400° for 1 hour, partly cooked through is just fine for ones you will be reserving in the fridge for a later date.
No one says you have to have an entree WITH your potato, heck you live alone, no one is telling you what to eat or when, so go wild.
Once cooked a potato can be scooped out and restuffed. Its innards can be mashed with anything you like: cheese, garlic, sardines, salsa and then restuffed and rebaked. Or you can rebake the empty shell with other things like a bit of ham and bacon and an egg, or even a scoop of chili or corned beef hash and then topped with cheese. (BTW you can save some of the insides for another recipe.)
One large potato cooked usually yields one serving of potato salad, hash browns, dinner fries, french fried potatoes, scalloped potatoes or 1 serving of cream of potato soup. Note: I have tried to make mashed potatoes with one potato, it IS possible but it’s hard to get the whipped loft one needs for true fluffiness. I recommend two or add cooked carrot, parsnip, sweet potato to your potato.
Topping a baked potato is only limited by your imagination, they are like a blank canvas. You can top them with pizza toppings, taco toppings, any sort of cheese or savory sauce, steamed or creamed vegetables, even honey and warmed or dried fruits can work. Try whatever is in the fridge, the worst that happens is you scrape off the topping and eat out the center.
Hasselback potatoes, once popular in the 1950s have made a reappearance, with this method you slice the par-cooked potato nearly the way through and tuck yummy things in between these rips and rebake the potato. I recommend cheese and/or bacon, but then you can put those on cardboard and I’d eat it.
Scalloped Ham and Potato Casserole
This receipe fits in 8×4 loaf pan.
half (1 potato and 2 slices of ham) will fit in one shallow gratin dish.
2 large baking potatoes
4-6 slices of deli sliced ham
[thin slices of onion, optional]
½ to 3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
pepper & salt
Preheat oven 350°
Slice potatoes the long way as thinly as possible. try a vegetable peeler or mandolin slicer. Whisk together milk, flour, salt and pepper. Layer potatoes and ham in casserole, until casserole is almost filled. Pour milk mixture over casserole contents. Dot with butter. Bake 40 minutes for loaf pan, 30 minutes for half recipe.