Cheesy Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes

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A baked potato is nice but a twice baked potato is extra special.  Although they take a bit of time you will be rewarded for your efforts when you watch them disappear.  If you have the time, baking the potatoes in an oven will yield crisp skins.  Alternatively, if you are pressed for time you can do the initial baking of the potatoes in a microwave oven in approximately 15-20 minutes.

My family loves the combination of cheese and bacon but you can omit the bacon to make them vegetarian friendly or add ham if you prefer.  Gouda is good but Swiss, sharp Cheddar, or a bit of gorgonzola cheese is quite tasty.  Chopped, cooked broccoli or diced raw tomatoes also pair well with a variety of cheeses.  Think of the potatoes as a blank palate and dress them up to your taste bud’s desires.

CHEESY BACON TWICE BAKED POTATOES

4 baking potatoes, scrubbed

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup grated Gouda cheese

1/4 cup green onions, diced

6 strips bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

  • Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork.  Place in a 425 degree oven and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and a fork inserted into them slides in easily.
  • Allow the potatoes to cool slightly until you can comfortably hold them.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  • Slice off the top 1/3 of each potato and discard.  Leaving 1/4 of of flesh, scoop out the insides of the potato and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the mascarpone cheese, buttermilk, and butter to the potatoes and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Do not over mix otherwise the potatoes will become gummy.
  • Add the green onions, bacon, and Gouda cheese and gently fold until well combined.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Scoop the potato mixture back into each of the potato shells mounding the potatoes until they are overflowing.
  • Sprinkle the paprika evenly over the top of the potatoes.
  • Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and return to the pre-heated oven.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the potatoes are hot, bubbly, and browned.

Serves 4

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