A cinch to make, easy to assemble ahead of time, with individual portions just right for entertaining—what more could you ask for in a holiday side dish? Twicebaked potatoes have it all. And what’s more, I love the way twice-baked potatoes deliver the fluffy texture of mashed potatoes combined with the satisfyingly chewy texture of baked potato skins.
The only choice of potato for twice-baked is a russet. Sometimes labeled simply as baking potatoes, the high-starch and low-moisture interior of these potatoes translates into a wonderfully fluffy mash that can absorb a generous amount of enrichment without becoming gummy or heavy. And their rugged, thick skin is an ideal shell to hold the filling.
The best tool for the fluffiest filling is a potato ricer. You can also use a potato masher, but the potatoes won’t be quite as light (try the Oxo Good Grips potato ricer, which sells for $19.99 at Oxo.com). Where the fun comes in is deciding on flavorings to create an appealing side dish that complements your menu. I always start with some sort of dairy, since without it, the potatoes will be dry. When I’m putting on the ritz, I combine butter, crème fraîche, and light cream, which creates a lovely texture and incomparable flavor worth every calorie, as you’ll see in the recipe Twice-Baked Potatoes with Crème Fraîche & Chives. I’ve included two of my most trusted flavor variations (Twice-Baked Potatoes with Cheese and Bacon and Twice-Baked Potatoes with Porcini & White Truffles), but feel free to experiment with combinations of your own. Do keep in mind, though, that you’ll be serving these as a side dish, so they shouldn’t upstage the main course.
Scoop, mix, and fill
1. Scoop out the flesh, leaving a thin layer in the shell so it doesn’t fall apart.
2. Use a light hand when mixing in the filling ingredients so the potatoes remain light and fluffy.
3. Spoon the filling back into the shell, pressing just enough so it holds together.
Making them ahead
A main virtue of twice-baked potatoes is that you can make them ahead and reheat to serve—a real boon for entertaining. Once you’ve filled the potatoes, transfer them to a baking dish, cover tightly with plastic, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. They can go directly from the refrigerator to the oven (obviously, remove the plastic wrap first). Once the potatoes are baked, they can sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.