The Microwave: Favorite Stuffed Potatoes

Sunday April 2, 2017

Although there are a few steps to making stuffed potatoes, it is time well spent. People adore them. Stuffing potatoes is an enjoyable way to showcase potatoes, and as a vegetable, potatoes end up as versatile as pasta. Also called twice-baked, or in our case, twice-microwaved, potatoes, the sky is the limit when creating them. They are a vegetarian delight.

You cook the potatoes whole, cool them, then scoop out the centers. They soak up the cheese of any type, and can be embellished with vegetables, crab, any already cooked filling You can make them ahead and then do the last heating right before serving. Serve as a side or entree.

Shredding the cheese can be a chore, but don’t even think about about pre-shredded cheese unless you really have to. Shredding your own is more economical too. Freshly shredded cheese has a fuller flavor and won’t be dry, which results in a better-tasting dish. And in some cases, you’ll even save money. Just make sure you have the right kitchen utensil for the job and you are ready to go. Use the old-fashioned box grater, just like at grandma’s house, which has fine holes on one side for grating hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, Manchego, and Dry Jack, and extra-coarse holes on the other side for semi-firm cheeses like cheddar and Swiss.

The Microplane box grater comes with a finger protector so you grate only cheese, not your knuckles. Then there is the hand-held grater with medium holes and the food processor fitted with the shredding attachment. Another handy tool is Tupperware’s Grate ‘N Measure, which is really clean way to grate, which has a 2 1/2-cup measuring cup attached to the back to catch the cheese as you grate it. Some cooks spray the grater with some non stick cooking spray before shredding since it keeps the grater really clean without any cheese buildup. Cold cheese is always easier to grate.

Don’t we all love twice-baked potatoes overflowing with some filling? We love the ever-popular combination of broccoli, cheese, and spuds. You could use spinach in place of the broccoli, but broccoli adds a little more texture and bulk to the stuffing. Allowing the spuds to cool somewhat (though not completely) before stuffing them will make it easier to scoop out the insides without tearing the shell.

The skin of a microwave baked potato will never crisp up like one baked in the oven, but it’s perfect when you want something good to eat, fast. And perfect for stuffing, which transform the potato into a substantial main course. Possible combinations of ingredients for stuffing are endless.  Some of our favorites are blue cheese and scallions, cheddar and chives, and here, filling chili and cheese. You can use 2 cans of your favorite brand of chili, any type, or make our simple Fast Bean Chili in the microwave while the potatoes are cooling.

Broccoli and Swiss Cheese-Stuffed Potatoes

Cookware: 10-inch Pyrex pie plate and large round microwave-friendly plate
Microwave Wattage: 1,100 to 1,300
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Standing Time: None
Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients

4 large russet potatoes (about 12 ounces each), thoroughly scrubbed
1 bunch broccoli, tough stems removed and cut into small florets, then rinsed in cold water broken to make about 2 cups florets
1 cup sour cream or thick plain yogurt
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 egg, well beaten
2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese (about 8-ounces)
2 to 4 cloves garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Place the potatoes on a double layer of paper towel, a the corners of the paper towel, or in a circle on a 10-inch pie plate. Pierce all over with the tip of a knife. Microcook the potatoes on HIGH until done but still somewhat firm, about 10 minutes total, 5 minutes on each side. Pierce each potato with a fork when you turn them over in order to let off steam. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool. Trying to stuff hot potatoes will make the skins collapse, so wait until they are cool.

2. Wrap the broccoli in a double layer of paper towels and moisten the towels under the faucet until evenly wet. Set the package on the turntable or a microwave-friendly plate. Microcook on HIGH for 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender. Let stand in the towel for 3 minutes.

3. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, gently slice each potato in half lengthwise using a sharp serrated knife. Handle them carefully to avoid tearing the skin. Scoop out the inside of each potato half, leaving a shell, about 1/4 inch thick all around. Place the insides of the potatoes into a mixing bowl.

4. Coarsely mash the potato innards, then add the cooked broccoli florets, the sour cream or yogurt, the mustard, egg and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Press in the garlic and mix together thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells and arrange the potato halves like spokes on a wheel on a plate. (You may wish to do this in two batches of four each, depending upon the amount of room inside your microwave.)

6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the potato halves and microcook on HIGH for about 5 minutes, until the potatoes are heated through. Serve immediately with a leafy green salad.

Chili-Stuffed Spuds

Cookware: 10-inch Pyrex pie plate and large round microwave-friendly plate
Microwave Wattage: 1,100 to 1,300
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Standing Time: None
Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients

4 large baking potatoes, thoroughly scrubbed (organic if possible)

Simple Fast Bean Chili
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup tomato sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder, to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream, for serving
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Instructions

1. Place the potatoes on a double layer of paper towel, a the corners of the paper towel, or in a circle on a 10-inch pie plate. Pierce all over with the tip of a knife. Microcook the potatoes on HIGH until done but still somewhat firm, about 10 minutes total, 5 minutes on each side. Pierce each potato with a fork when you turn them over in order to let off steam. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool. Trying to stuff hot potatoes will make the skins collapse, so wait until they are cool.

2. While the potatoes are cooling, make the chili. Place the beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, and oregano in a 1-or 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup; stir to combine. Microcook on HIGH for 6 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking, until steaming hot.

3. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, gently slice each potato in half lengthwise using a sharp serrated knife. Handle them carefully to avoid tearing the skin. Scoop out the inside of each potato half, leaving a shell, about 1/4 inch thick all around. Place the insides of the potatoes into a mixing bowl.

4. Coarsely mash the potato innards. Add the chili and 1 cup cheese and stir to combine.

4. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells and arrange the potato halves like spokes of a wheel on a round plate. (You may wish to do this in two batches of four each, depending upon the amount of room inside your microwave.)

5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the potato halves. Microcook on HIGH for another 2 to 3 minutes, until potato is thoroughly heated and cheese is melted. Place a dollop of sour cream on top of each potato and sprinkle with a bit of chopped cilantro.  Serve right away, nice and hot.


Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Microwave Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2010, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2017

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.


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