Potato

Crispy, Creamy, Loaded Baked Potatoes Satisfying Enough to Be Dinner Tonight

Garlicky yogurt! Mushroom bacon! Cheese!

February  4, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham

I grew up in a household that couldn't make up its mind on the topic of potatoes.

My father was a sweet potato man, through and through.

"Idaho potatoes? You mean, wet cardboard?!" he could be heard saying with startling regularity.

Meanwhile, my mother swore by the starchy, non-sweet varieties. Big ones, mashed with creamed leeks. Fingerlings, boiled and tossed with olive oil, salt, lemon juice, and rosemary. New potatoes, halved and baked 'til super crispy.

Savory or sweet—take your pick. Photo by Ty Mecham

It was one of the only food topics upon which they didn't agree, the cause of many a dinner-planning stand-off. Eating and cooking had played such an important role in their early relationship, which began when they vowed to write a comprehensive dumpling guide to lower Manhattan—we're all still waiting on the manuscript for that one—and continued over burbling pots of spoon lamb, stuffed cabbage, and lots of Marcella Hazan pastas.

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“Sweet potatoes are a no no on our house. Neither me or hubby like them so no arguing there!!!!”
— Lea
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Perhaps as an overcompensation, I learned to love both families of potatoes—like, really love both, a lot.

There's so much to savor, no matter what type you're working with. Like how the flavor of the flesh mellows after a long visit to a blistering oven, becoming a perfect canvas for complementary pops of salt, fat, and acid. And how oiling and salting the papery skin allows it to crisp up, like a chip. How the sweet ones, whether orange-fleshed, purple-fleshed (Stokes), or white-fleshed (Murasaki, aka Japanese sweet potatoes—my favorite), develop a nuanced, caramelized quality as they bake. And how, with some butter and salt, the savory ones are as familiar and comforting as your favorite quilt.

It's no surprise, then, that I regularly turn to potatoes to star as my dinner entrée.

Mushroom bacon is perfect in every way. Photo by Ty Mecham

That's correct—baked potatoes so satisfying, you can serve them as your main course. In this version, garlicky Greek yogurt brings lots of tang, scallions deliver a pop of freshness, and mushroom bacon shows up with so much sassy, smoky crispness, you'll want to make a second batch right away. You can use this same recipe formula for starchy, savory potatoes, or for sweet ones, to remind yourself how delicious that salty-sweet thing can be.

Or if you're anything like my parents—and don't want to make up your mind—you can use one of each.


Where do you stand on the sweet versus savory potato debate? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.

8 Comments

Maureen W. February 23, 2019
Portabella mushroom bacon??? Could be life and health changing! Tell me more, please.
 
Misfitwife February 8, 2019
I love both varieties but neither my husband or daughter want sweet potatoes. Only "normal" potatoes for them!
 
Lea February 7, 2019
Sweet potatoes are a no no on our house. Neither me or hubby like them so no arguing there!!!!
 
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Ella Q. February 7, 2019
Crises, averted!
 
HalfPint February 4, 2019
I've always been a savory potato person because sometimes there's this strange flavor (almost like a bitter tang) to sweet potatoes (especially "yams") that I didn't care for (if that makes any sense; hope someone knows what I'm talking about). Russets are my favorite for mashing and frying. Nothing can top it's lovely 'fluffy' texture even when fried.

One of my former Korean roommates (at one point I lived in a house with 3 other Korean girls) introduced me to her aunt's baked potato topped with low-cal mayo, pepperoncini (or banana peppers) and canned black olives. Sounds so terrible but it was, and still is, a delightfully delicious way to eat a baked potato. I think the zesty pickled peppers cuts the mayo flavor and richness.

 
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Ella Q. February 6, 2019
That sounds so delicious! Will have to give it a try.
 
Eric K. February 4, 2019
Ella, reading this was like enveloping myself in a duvet of starch. I'm an Idaho man myself, which the fancy food people in my life think is weird. I don't know why, but I just like cooking with them the most! (Probably due to their starch content.)
 
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Ella Q. February 6, 2019
Thanks Eric! A duvet of starch sounds lovely.