It was only a week ago that I lamented I was slowly transforming into a potato after buying a 20-pound bag of Russets from Costco. I’m here today to unashamedly admit that the potato consumption is not slowing down, even with the aforementioned brief forays into spaghetti squash. For two reasons: One, 20-pounds of potatoes is an awful lot and on principle I must get my money’s worth and use allllll of them. Two, I love them.
Potatoes were always on the kitchen table growing up. Mom would boil them in chunks, discarding the milky, starchy water and mashing them with simply butter, salt, and pepper. Our go-to sick food in the household was either a can of clumpy Chicken N’ Stars soup, or a baked potato with butter, cheese, and chunks of ham. Even when my dad recently had a knee replacement surgery, and his first bonafide meal post-queasy recovery was a baked potato. Even when I get food poisoning and curse all forms of nutrition as evil and never to be consumed again, baked potatoes are my therapy meal, reminding me that it’s okay to eat again.
It’s the ultimate comfort food, and I find myself craving various renditions of it often, especially when the weather cools down and the feeling of warm potato belly is so welcomed.
They’re so good, they actually make eating broccoli bearable. I find myself buying broccoli in bulk, willing us to consume it for its healthy benefits. But bleh. Eating it often feels like a chore that my adult, health-conscious self has to undertake at least once a week. But if you mash them into a fluffy potato with a healthy dose of butter, cheese, and seasoning, the chore vanishes, and you’re left with a delicious spud-o’-yum.
We’ve been making these for about a year now, and we don’t plan to slow down. With the Texas version of cold weather coming in (sunny with a high in the 50s – stop laughing, northerners…) my day is spent dreaming of curling up on the couch in comfy sweatpants, surrounded by twinkly Christmas lights, with this spud in my face.
It’s a quick, easy, moderately healthy dinner. We’ve used it as a side dish to a simple store-bought rotisserie chicken, and we’ve topped it with bacon when we’re feeling especially sinful. I have fantasies of making a dozen of these as an alternative to the classic broccoli and cheese rice casserole at Thanksgiving, but the reign of that family casserole made with cheese whiz (oy….) isn’t coming to a close anytime soon.
So I’ll keep eating these potatoes on the couch while binge-watching Netflix in my sweatpants. (The most American sentence ever written).
- 4 large Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (or your choice of similar)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. With your hands, cover the potatoes in a thin layer of the vegetable oil. Place on a baking pan and cook for 1 hour.
- 2. While the potatoes cook, place the broccoli in a small saucepan. Fill the pan with water halfway up to the broccoli and cook over medium heat, until the water reaches a simmer. Lower the heat slightly and cover, cooking for 3-4 minutes, or until the broccoli reaches your desired tenderness. Drain and set aside.
- 3. Cut the cooked potatoes in half. With a spoon, scoop out the insides (carefully if they are still hot and steamy), leaving a thin layer of potato left on the skin intact. Place the potato that you scooped out into a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Add the broccoli, 3/4 cup of cheddar, and spices. Mash with a potato masher or with the paddle of a stand mixer on low, until well combined.
- 4. Scoop the mixture back into the cored potatoes, filling them as much as possible. Sprinkle with the leftover 1/4 cup of cheese. Bake in the oven at the same heat for 15 minutes. Serve warm right out of the oven. They can also be stored wrapped tightly in the refrigerator and heated in the microwave.