When I made this meal for dinner, The Artist said, “It’s like Chicken Tetrazzini stuffed into potatoes.” It hadn’t occurred to me, but he was right. Tetrazzini sauce seasoned with delicious herbs and cheese. And it was darn good!
Potatoes on their own are low in calories, high in fiber, and full of vitamins and minerals. I love potatoes and they are even good for us – Bonus! If I am having a bad day, all The Artist has to do is present me with potato chips, French fries, or hash browns and I instantly feel better.
When I was diagnosed with gluten-intolerance, pasta – the staple of The Artist’s life and his true comfort food – was immediately removed from my life. My first thought was thank goodness I love potatoes and rice. Meals that I had made for most of my life have had to be reinterpreted and reworked without flour. It caused me to have to push out of my comfort zone and get creative. In many cases we now prefer the new preparation to the original.
I chose to use Gourmet Garden’s Italian Herbs and Basil, but you could use any flavor combinations you enjoy. It is extremely easy to change the flavor profile. If you want to make this a vegetarian meal, leave out the chicken and bacon. I really liked the crunchiness of the bacon on the top, so if you leave it out, I recommend you add some nuts, croutons, or other similar textural component.
You can also change the cheeses you use. I like the simplicity of cheddar and Parmesan, but if you love feta, try that. A bleu cheese would add a nice piquant quality, and a pepper Jack would add a spicy kick. What’s your favorite combination?
This would be a really fun idea for a party. You can bake the potatoes early in the day and keep them warm in a low oven. You could make a couple versions of this, changing the seasoning to give more options. Set out a series of toppings and let people add their favorites. They can all customize their meals and it makes your job super easy.
If you serve this with a simple salad, I think it would be very popular for a ladies luncheon, showers, or kids parties. The potato and cheese sauce are very rich, so keep any side dishes very simple. I used large potatoes and neither The Artist nor I could finish ours. Next time I will use smaller potatoes.
This is a great meal for a quick weeknight meal. You can use leftover chicken or meat from a rotisserie chicken from your grocer. Just take it off the bones and cut into chunks or strips, then toss into the sauce and dinner is ready.
I love the flavor and texture of oven-baked potatoes, but we don’t always have the time to cook them that way. If time is short, you can cook the potatoes in a microwave. I have gotten so used to the microwaved version that have a “real” baked potato is a true treat!
I did the simplest preparation by splitting the potatoes in half lengthwise. But if you want a more elegant version of twice-baked potatoes, take a look at the latest issue of Food and Wine. Their technique instructs you to take a slice off the top of each baked potato and scoop out the filling from that opening. It is definitely a much more attractive presentation, but either way works just fine. And I don’t know about you, but I like an easy, casual presentation most of the time.
I hope you give these a try – I am already planning on a repeat appearance at our dinner table! Have a fabulous day!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Make sure you use Idaho Russet potatoes for this dish. You want a starchy potato that bakes up light and fluffy. Russets are absolutely perfect!
Use your favorite gluten-free flour blend to make the white sauce and double check that the bacon you use is gluten-free. Gourmet Garden seasonings are all gluten-free.
- Potatoes and Filling
- 4 medium-sized Russet potatoes, scrubbed thoroughly and rinsed well; patted dry
- Organic olive oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 lb (about 6 slices) thick bacon, partially frozen and cut into medium dice
- 1 large boneless cooked chicken breast (rotisserie chicken is fine)
- Basil Cheese Sauce
- 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
- 1-1/2 cup milk
- 2 tsp Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs
- 2 tsp Gourmet Garden Basil
- 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
- 1 cup shredded white Cheddar, plus more for topping
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Water, if needed
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place potatoes on a baking sheet, rub olive oil over all over until evenly coated, and sprinkle tops with salt. Bake for about 1 hour or until soft when squeezed gently.
- While the potatoes are baking, prepare the filling components: In a large skillet, cook the bacon pieces over medium heat until crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Cover with additional paper towels to absorb all the extra grease.
- Cut the cooked and cooled chicken into small bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Make Cheese/Chicken Filling: While potatoes are baking, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until no lumps remain. Cook for about 3 minutes until the mixture has lost its raw flour aroma and is just beginning to color. Off the heat, whisking constantly, slowly pour in the milk. When thickened, creamy, and smooth, whisk in the Italian Herbs and Basil. Stir in the cheddar and Parmesan, whisking until melted. Add water if needed (gluten-free flours will need more liquid to stay creamy and not gluey). Place the skillet over low heat.
- Fold most of the bacon pieces and all of the chicken into the cheese sauce. You will use the reserved bacon pieces for garnishing. Taste the sauce and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Keep warm over very low heat, stirring occasionally. If the sauce thickens up as it sits, whisk in some water to thin it.
- Prepare Baked Potatoes: When the potatoes are ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the broiler on.
- Make a cut lengthwise in the top of each potato and squeeze from the ends to expose the centers. (Use hot pads to protect your hands.) Spread the potatoes open fairly wide, leaving them on the baking sheet. Scoop out most of the cooked centers from each potato, transferring the centers to a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese sauce to the bowl stirring until blended. Rake the insides of the potatoes to loosen the remaining filling in the skins.
- Spoon some of the cheese filling into each potato, sprinkle with the extra cheese, and place the baking sheet back under the broiler until golden brown and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Use tongs to transfer potatoes to serving plates or bowls; sprinkle the tops with reserved bacon. Serve immediately.
- Any extra cheese sauce can be served over cooked pasta or rice for a second meal.
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