Pommes de Terre Farci Recipe
Stuffed baked potatoes in the French style. These just melt in your mouth and people will talk about them for a long time to come. Light and lively these are not; they're for special occasions when you really want to push the boat out. For a version that is less fattening, but still just as full-flavoured, see our recipe for Cheesy Cauliflower Stuffed Potatoes.
- Start heating oven to 175 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4.
- Wash potatoes. Prick on one side. (Tip! Pick the flattest side to be the bottom: more stable that way.) Bake in heated oven, pricked side up, for one hour or until done.
- Remove potatoes from oven, and let cool a bit until safe to handle, about half an hour. You can turn off the oven for a while to save energy.
- Now for the tricky part of the recipe, upon which its success will depend: creating the potato shells which will be stuffed. They are more fragile if they are hot, so the cooling step above helps with this, too.
- Treat the pricked side as the "top." Cut the top off. Do so in such a way that you give yourself as wide a scooping area as possible, while not compromising the sides of the potato, which will weaken them. Leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (1/2 to 1 cm) of the top attached around the sides should do it. The slice itself should be quite thin. Set the slices aside.
- Using a small spoon, scoop out the insides of the potato. Don't poke holes through the sides or bottom of the skin. Aim to leave about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) of potato on the sides of the shell. Allow some time for this; this is quite fiddly and harder to do than it sounds without accidentally mining your way through the skin with a slip of the spoon. If you do, patch them with some potato at the end.
- Put all the scooped out potato into a large bowl.
- You can put the oven back on around now to bring it back up to temperature: 175 C / 350 F.
- Mash this with all of the ingredients listed above (save for the last mention of butter for brushing potatoes with.) If you are being generous with the grated cheese (highly recommended), stir some of that in, too.
- Set potato mixture aside.
- Zap a few tablespoons of butter in the microwave, and use that to generously brush the insides of the potato shells, sides and bottom. If you need more butter, zap a bit more. Butter the potato flesh side of the top slices as well.
- Pop the shells and top slices in the heated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the outside of the skins has crisped, then remove them from the oven. The top slices may be done sooner. Leave the oven on.
- Sprinkle the bottom of the shells with some grated cheese, then fill each with the potato mixture. As you are doing this, press the mixture in lightly with your fingers so that you don't leave cavities. Then, brush the tops of each stuffed potato with some more butter. Then sprinkle grated cheese on top of each, pressing the cheese down lightly so that it holds well (and you can get more on.)
- Sprinkle the top slices, potato flesh side up, with some cheese as well.
- [At this point, the potatoes can be refrigerated, covered, for a day or two, and cooking continued later. Just bring back up to room temperature before continuing. Or, they can be frozen. If you are doing either of these, then clearly disregard the step above about leaving the oven on!]
- Pop the potatoes and top slices back into the oven on a baking sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are piping hot and the cheese has browned lightly. The top slices will be done sooner.
- Serve the potatoes hot.
- As for the top slices, they are either a cook's treat for a snack the next day, warmed up, or you can be nice and serve them as well.
Allow a good amount of prep time for this recipe. But people's reactions when they take their first bite make it worth while. Get good, large baking potatoes -- the larger they are, the easier they are to handle. Instead of the onion powder, you can use a few tablespoons of minced onion. Instead of the garlic powder, you can use a teaspoon or so, to taste, of minced garlic. Zap either fresh onion or garlic in the microwave first for a minute or so to soften and cook them before adding to potato mixture. Feel free to be far more generous with the cheese. It's best if you use real Swiss cheese, as in Gruyère Cheese, or a Swiss-style cheese such as Jarlsberg. The American Swiss cheese might not really have enough taste for this recipe. You shouldn't need salt in this recipe: there should be enough salt in the cheese and butter already. You don't have to do the added bits about the top slices; you can just discard them if you wish. But they are yummy. Easily doubled or tripled.
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