Why It Works
- Baking the potatoes in an oven and then finishing them on a grill results in crispy, chewy potato skins and a fluffy, gooey filling.
Baked potatoes are a simple pleasure that is hard to refuse. But when they're twice-baked? Even better. To achieve primo results, it's not just the filling that needs to shine. After all, potato skins have best-part potential.
These twice-baked potatoes—prepped in the oven and finished on the grill—get piled high with fillings: extra-sharp cheddar, peppered bacon, and chives.
Despite conventional wisdom (sorry, Mom), you need to skip butter or oil during the initial baking stage to achieve a thick, chewy exterior. Otherwise, you'll get a rubbery, unappealing vessel that's easily discarded.
When making these bountiful boats, I tried three approaches. First, I baked them twice in the oven. With the second batch, after an initial oven bake, I finished them off on the grill. The grill method achieved a superior product, one with a smoky, almost brittle base and a cloud of extra-flavorful filling on top.
Of course, you can cut down on time considerably by following the America's Test Kitchen approach to potato skins: microwave the potatoes for several minutes, make the filling and top the potatoes, and then bake or grill them. In my experience, these were good in a pinch (and certainly quicker), but the potato skins didn't achieve the same level of crispness.
4 medium Idaho baking potatoes, scrubbed
4 ounces (1/2 block large box) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
8 ounces (1 block) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided use
4 slices peppered bacon, cooked and finely crumbled
3 tablespoons finely minced, fresh chives
4 tablespoons butter, melted (see notes)
Adjust rack to middle position of oven and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Poke each potato several times with a fork and place directly on the rack. Bake until skin just starts to crisp and flesh is soft, about 1 hour. Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, preheat a gas grill to 375°F (190°C).
When cool enough to handle, slice off upper-third of potatoes. Scoop out interior into a medium bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of flesh. Add cream cheese and sour cream and beat with a hand-held mixer until thoroughly combined and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Fold in all but 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, bacon, and chives with a wooden spoon. Season with salt, to taste.
Brush outer skins with melted butter (see notes). Fill hollowed skins generously with potato mixture and sprinkle tops with reserved cheese. Place in the center of grill over direct heat and cook until skins are crackly, the interiors are warmed through and the cheese on top is bubbly, 7-10 minutes. Remove from grill and let cool for 3 minutes before serving.
Instead of brushing skins with butter before they're grilled, try using some reserved bacon fat. It'll up the smoke factor and make the skins even cracklier.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 32g||42%|
|Saturated Fat 18g||92%|
|Total Carbohydrate 40g||15%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 16mg||80%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|