Question: What’s Saturday?
Answer: Saint Patrick’s Day, of course! The one day when, no matter what your background or where you’re from, we all claim to be Irish. Who among us, remembering from our kindergarten days, isn’t afraid to go greenless on March 17? I won’t risk being pinched for nothing green on my person, will you?
Not too sure how that custom started, doubt the pious saint came up with that practice, but I’ll be among the greenies just to be safe.
Almost as traditional as wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is including potatoes for dinner. Potatoes were unknown in Ireland until the end on the 16th century when Sir Walter Raleigh introduced them to Ireland. Called “patata” in the Andes Mountains of Peru where Spanish conquerors discovered them, they were taken to Europe, eventually reached England and were renamed potato.
So, with St. Pat’s Day on the horizon, what could be more appropriate than a potato recipe? A standby in my mother’s house, spend a little time and fill your freezer with her take on a favorite staple.
This recipe can be doubled or even tripled. Take advantage when potatoes are on sale and make a big batch, your family will love them.
STUFFED BAKED POTATOES
6 medium sized good russet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1-1/2 cups grated Jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
Bake well-scrubbed and pierced potatoes until done in a 400-degree oven. Do not oil skins, they should be tough. Cut in half lengthwise and gently scoop out insides. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes with butter and milk until fluffy. Fold in everything but paprika, reserve a little cheese for garnish. Mound potato mixture in shells, top with remaining cheese and a sprinkle of paprika for color. Set potatoes in baking dish, return to oven, bake until cheese melts and potatoes are piping hot.
Here’s the good news — six potatoes equal 12 halves and unless you’re a reality-program family, that’s a lot of spuds. These potatoes freeze wonderfully. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen you can bag them without destroying your handiwork and, they will keep for three months and used when needed.
To bake directly from freezer, unwrap and place in a baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees for 35-45 minutes, uncover, sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired, and bake for 15-20 minutes more or until potatoes are hot and cheese has melted.
Or, thaw first then bake. Remove from freezer and place in refrigerator the night prior to baking. When thawed, unwrap, place in a baking dish or on a baking sheet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Sprinkle tops with cheese and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until hot and cheese has melted.
If short on time, place four unwrapped frozen potatoes in microwave and nuke on high for 10 minutes. Remove, cover with foil and place in 450-degree oven to finish cooking.
To cook one frozen stuffed baked potato, microwave two to four minutes on high. Rotate plate halfway through cooking time. For each additional potato, increase cooking time by about two to three minutes. Rule of thumb — when cooked, internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.
Lots of options here. All good and all worth the trouble when the reward is delicious, stuffed baked potatoes in mere minutes.