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Try a Kitchen Sink Dinner: Baked Stuffed Potatoes

By Lori Powell

Okay,  I admit I have not been doing that much cooking for myself lately…well at least not what most people would consider a proper meal. Lately, it has been kitchen sink dinners (translation: whatever bits and pieces that are kicking around or still kicking in your fridge).

These bits are highly underrated. You will be surprised at how inventive you can be when you have limitations and with only a few good ingredients still standing. In my case, leftover ground bison meat (from the sliders I made last week), 3 baking potatoes, 1 shallot, garlic and pantry stuff….

One word of advice regarding your fridge/pantry:  always have superb condiments on hand.  I have a whole top and two door shelves dedicated to them in my fridge, such as salsa, low fat sour cream, assorted mustards (horseradish, tarragon, wasabi, whole grain, Dijon), cheeses (Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere, blue and goat), capers, lemons, anchovy paste, shallots, pure honey and maple syrup, aged sherry vinegar (not cooking sherry vinegar), the ubiquitous balsamic, really good extra virgin olive oil, assorted pickles and olives, Asian sweet and hot chili paste, hot pepper jelly (I use those last two a lot), Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dark toasted sesame oil and a good-quality jarred tomato sauce.

I could go on and mention dry goods such as whole grain pasta and such, but this is enough already!

Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention the other big flavor players spices and herbs – freshly ground black pepper, good flaked sea salt and lots of dried spices (thank you, McCormick, for your new flavors of roasted cumin, cinnamon and smoked paprika, to shout our a few) and fresh herbs. Do not forget to have a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a red wine of your choice to add to any sauce or to deglaze your pan.

I had these tasty taters for dinner and was super-satisfied.  Also not feeling guilty since the meat is really just – dare I mention the word again – a “condiment” to the tater.

Dinner Baked Stuffed Potatoes
Serves 2 (Makes 3 stuffed potatoes)

3 baking potatoes, preferably organic, skins scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for potato
Sea salt
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin
1/2 pound grass-fed ground beef, bison or Buffalo
3/4 cup chunky salsa or fresh bruschetta topping
1/3 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
6 fresh basil leaves or parsley or chives
Freshly ground black pepper
Low-fat sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Prick potatoes with a fork and arrange each on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle each with some oil and sprinkle with salt. Tightly wrap and bake in the middle of oven until fork-tender, about 1 hour.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in small skillet over moderate heat and cook shallot, stirring for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook 1 minute more. Stir in meat and cook, breaking up lumps until no longer pink. Add ½ cup of the salsa and cook until just hot, about 1 minute.

Remove potatoes from oven and carefully unwrap; leave oven on. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise without cutting all the way through; then open like a book. Arrange in a baking dish, cut sides up, and top with meat filling, cheese and remaining salsa. Bake until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.

Place on serving plates and top with basil and black pepper. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

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