Folks, what you see here is not your average baked potato. Let me introduce The M.O.A.B. -- The Mother Of All Bakers. You see, that plate in the picture is 10 1/2 inches in diameter. We're talking about just under three pounds of loaded bacon-laden baker bliss.
I'm not normally one to jump on the over-the-top food bandwagon. This happened because of friendly visit from one of our neighbors. My wife IM'd me at work the other day and said that our neighbor, Tabatha, stopped by and gave us a bag of potatoes and onions. Of course, I thought that was a very kind of her. What I didn't know is that said potatoes were apparently grown in some field near a nuclear reactor.
Of course Idaho is known for our famous potatoes (it's even printed on our license plates), but these things are huge! I've lived here for 15 years and I have never seen potatoes even close to this large. I met the late billionaire potato magnate J.R. Simplot once and he offered to show me "a potato as big as a football". I thought it was an outlandish claim at the time, but I am a believer now.
After looking them over and chuckling under my breath in amazement, I set them aside. Then, on the way home from work tonight I had a moment of tuber clarity. I decided that these were destined to be baked and enjoyed as any fine Idaho Russet should.
Once I decided to bake them, I quickly realized that I had a problem. How in the world do you bake such a huge potato so that the inside gets done before the outside turns into a dry crusty mess?
Then it hit me. My mother used to stick these thick aluminum skewers through her potatoes when she baked them. I never really understood it until later in life. See, the idea is that the metal conducts heat into the center of the potato and thereby speeds the cooking. Well, it just so happens that I have some metal shish kabob skewers that would work nicely.
To me the skin is the best part of a properly baked potato. I like to oil the skin so that they get nice and almost crunchy. A baker should never see the inside of a piece of foil!
I also like bacon on my baker, but I didn't really want to deal with cooking the bacon. Eureka! I'll cook the bacon on the potatoes! This, I must admit, was a serious moment of kitchen resourcefulness for me. What could be better than bacon-coated baker skin?
Each was skewered and draped with four half-slices of bacon. I then hit them with a liberal dose of fresh-ground black pepper.
I baked them at 375º for 30 minutes, then I turned the heat down to 350º, cooked them for another 45 minutes. By this time the bacon was nicely done, so I removed it.
The potatoes were not even close to being done, so I rolled them around in the bacon fat and returned them to the oven. Forty five minutes later they were done. That's two hours of total cooking time.
It was now time to top this bad boy (only one, the other will be used later). Here are the toppings:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 half-slices of bacon, chopped
- The tops of an entire bunch of scallions, sliced
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup light sour cream (I felt mildly guilty)
And there, ladies and gentlemen, you have The M.O.A.B. -- The Mother Of All Bakers. Sadly, I could only eat half of it, but I have lunch for tomorrow.