A high-fat, high-taste treat fit for the Games

  • By Jan Roberts-Dominguez / Herald Columnist
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

What got into me? There I was, standing in the produce aisle, shopping list in hand: Romaine lettuce, broccoli, celery, sugar snap peas. All the fixings for a perfectly healthy dinner salad. But the potatoes beckoned and all I could think about were “jackets.” Not those pathetic frozen imitations served up in sports bars and freezer boxes. The real deal. Like they used to make back in the 1980s. Big, fat day-old baked potatoes, their fluffy innards scooped out, the skins deep-fried to a crisp-yet-tender golden brown, then filled with a fistful of fresh-fried bacon pieces and shredded sharp cheddar, and broiled until the bacon poked through the bubbling cheese. Served so fresh and hot that the first bite always scorched your lips.

Oh yeah, and a healthy dollop of sour cream on the side. Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmm! The Diet World be damned. The night was young and I was experiencing a rare hankering to turn dinner prep into an event.

Knowing that day-in-day-out cooking squashes the oomph out of my creative side, my husband, Steve, chose not to undermine my enthusiasm: but, honey, the calories, the time, the mess! Indeed, when a culinary whim strikes, better to step aside. Dinner was going to be late. But dinner was going to be terrific.

So I got to thinking about it. There’s no shame in eating such foods in moderation. And with the Olympics still a nightly spectator sport for folks, I thought I’d share my “Couch Potato” cuisine with you. Enjoy! And go USA!

These make great couch potato fare to gobble during the Olympics. Just have plenty of sour cream on hand for scooping. Diet and exercise will follow tomorrow.

4 large baking potatoes, baked

Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying

12 slices bacon, diced, fried until crisp

1/2 pound shredded sharp or medium cheddar

Optional toppings for jackets: sauteed mushroom slices, chopped green onions, sour cream

Halve each baked potato lengthwise and scoop out the fluffy innards, leaving about 1/4-inch of potato. Note: It’s perfectly OK to microwave the potatoes until tender instead of baking them in a traditional oven.

About 30 minutes before serving, heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Gently place up to 4 of the scooped out jackets in the oil, one at a time. Fry until they are golden brown on the inner side. As the jackets brown, remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue frying until all of the jackets are fried and drained.

Place the fried jackets on a baking sheet, cut side up. Divide the fried bacon pieces among the halves. If adding sauteed mushrooms or chopped green onions, add them now. Then top each jacket with cheese (it melts down, so fill each half with a generous amount). Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve on a platter with a bowl of sour cream on the side.

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis, Ore., food writer, cookbook author and artist. Readers can contact her by e-mail at janrd@proaxis.com.

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