BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato Skins

I should have called this blog Dad Loves Bacon. Except, alliteration. And, truly, Dad LIKES bacon, but I don’t think he loves it. I, however, clearly LOVE bacon. Could be worse, right?

Rare is the Sunday when my husband and I get the chance to veg in front of football games all day. We’re fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but as fantasy football players, it’s fun to see as many games as possible and cheer for the players on our teams.

Last Sunday was one of those rare football-watching days, which of COURSE, required football-watching snacks. Chips and dip would have probably sufficed, but last Sunday, snacks meant baked potato skins. BBQ chicken and bacon and fontina cheese stuffed baked potato skins.

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Looks terrible, right?

“Restaurant-style” potato skins are usually deep fried. Nothing wrong with that… but deep frying is capital M Messy. Broiling the potato skins keeps the crisp without the mess (and the calories), and it’s much faster.

Start by washing and then baking whole potatoes. Once they are cooked through (about an hour at 400 degrees for me), cut them in half and let them cool. Seriously! Scraping burning hot potato out of the skin is zero fun.

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You can’t tell from this picture, but these bad boys were steamy.

While the potatoes are cooling, prep the filling. Slice up your bacon and cook until crisp in a small fry pan. Chop up the shallots and chicken while the bacon cooks.

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Allow your nosy cat to watch you work.

Once the bacon is crisp, set it aside on a paper towel. Drain most, but not all of the bacon grease out of the pan. Add the garlic to the grease, cook for about 30 seconds, then add the shallots and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook the shallots for a few minutes until they start to soften.

Add the chicken pieces and spices and stir well to combine.

Now head back to the potatoes, which should be cool enough to handle by now. Scoop out the insides of the potatoes with a spoon. You don’t want to scrape the potato completely out – try to leave a small amount of potato in the skin.

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Like this!

You can set the scoopings aside for another recipe, like this Browned Butter Baked Potato Pizza. Or Baked Potato Soup. Or Tater Tots. Etc. If you’re not planning on making something else right away, the potato insides will survive in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days. I frequently make skins one night and soup/pizza/etc. the next or vice versa. Works great, and you only have to bake and scrape once!

Turn your broiler on high and rub the outsides AND insides of the skins with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

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Salty goodness.

Place the potatoes skin-side up on the pan and broil on HIGH for 3-4 minutes. I like to broil for 2 minutes at a time (and I always set a timer… too many things I have burned to a little crisp after forgetting them under the broiler). After 2 minutes, I check to make sure each one is cooking evenly (and nothing is burning).

When they are ready, the skins should be crisp and lightly browned.

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Nice little browning on the bottoms.

Flip the potatoes over and broil again, flesh-side up, for another 3-4 minutes (2 and 2 for me again!).

Hopefully you haven’t forgotten to stir your chicken while you’re working on the potatoes. Once the chicken is cooked through, mix in your favorite BBQ sauce. I usually use hot garlic BBQ sauce from our favorite wing joint, but use what you like (or have in the house).

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This bottle is actually a growler… and is clearly more than 16 oz of sauce.

Divide the chicken mixture between the broiled potato skins. Top with fontina cheese and your prepared bacon crumbles.

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I’d eat these just like this.

Broil the potatoes for a final 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with green onions and serve hot!

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Dang.

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Recreating Feta-Topped NY Strip Steaks

I travel for work. Not usually four times in four weeks, like this month (crazy!), but from time to time. Frequently, this means sandwiches at the airport and burnt coffee during the hotel’s continental breakfast. Occasionally, this means some truly delicious and unique eats.

On a trip last year, I had one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. Generally, steak to me means meat. No frills needed. Just cook it, maybe a little salt and pepper, call it a day. SO good.

But this was a feta-crusted steak. As a lover of salt and cheese, feta is a natural choice for one of my favorite foods. Good feta literally sits in BRINE. Can’t get any more salty/cheesy than cheese that soaks in saltwater all the time.

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Brined to the MAX.

I’ve been looking to re-create this feta-topped steak since I ate it. It took me more than a year to make this first attempt. Steak is just so good without extra toppings, and whenever I ask my husband if he wants to try it, he just wants to grill regular steaks. And since he’s the house grillmaster, I never turn it down when he wants to grill.

However, this past week, we were completely out of charcoal, meaning grilling was not an option. So I went ahead with my attempt.

If you are familiar with feta, you know that stuff is crumbly. Getting it to stick to anything (like a steak) is virtually impossible. So, step one is whipping the feta into something of a spread. I used 2 oz of feta cheese, a tablespoon of olive oil and my stick blender to make it happen. If I ever get to make this again (maybe next year?), I’m going to try perhaps some Greek yogurt instead of olive oil, to help the feta crisp better later, but the recipe is still delicious so I didn’t want to hold back!

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I started by whipping the feta by itself, then adding the olive oil a little bit at a time, and beating until it was creamy.

Then it was time for the steaks. I used NY strip steaks and I completely forgot to look to see how big they were. Maybe 8oz each? They were large, but not very thick. (I’d actually do smaller and thicker next time if I could.)

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Pat the steaks dry and rub them with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. I used a cast iron skillet to sear the steaks, then finished them in the oven for a few minutes.

Drizzle some additional olive oil in the skillet and let it get REALLY hot. It should be smoking slightly before you add the steaks, and when you add them, they should start sizzling – loudly and immediately.

Let the steaks sit on one side for three minutes without moving them. This helps develop a nice crust. Observe:

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Flip the steaks and immediately place them in the oven for 3-4 minutes. Take the steaks out, turn your broiler on high, and quickly top the steaks with the feta. Broil for 1 minute or until the feta is melty and bubbly and mmmmmm.

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Before:After

With this method of cooking, my steaks ended up as medium/medium-well, perfect for me, but adjust the cooking time as needed. Let the steaks rest for a few minutes once you take them out of the oven. Then: DIG IN!

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Mmmmmm.

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