Pacific Northwest | March 14, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineMarch 14, 2004seattletimes.com home
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Four Swallows' Fontina-Filled Potatoes

Serves 6

To make the potatoes look a little more swank, cut them in half the "wrong" way, turning the shells on their ends to form little cups. And since the rich and creamy mashed-potato filling is what this side dish is all about, bake an extra potato so you'll have enough to pile it above the skins.

4 very large russet potatoes, each about 1 pound
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup crème fraîche or cultured sour cream
1/2 cup Fontina Val d'Aosta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and scrub the potatoes. Cut about half an inch off each end of each potato. (This will provide a level base for the potato to "stand up" when it's filled and rebaked.)

2. Bake the potatoes in the middle of the oven until they are tender, about one hour and 15 minutes.

3. When the potatoes are done, pull them out of the oven and turn it up to 400. Cut them in half crosswise so that you have two tall halves that will stand on the ends you trimmed. With a tablespoon, scoop the insides from the potato halves, preserving enough of the white flesh against the skin to keep the "cups" stable. Select the six halves that look best for filling and discard the two others. (The extra potato is there to provide more filling for the six that you will serve.)

4. Add the butter to the potatoes in the bowl and mash with a wire whisk. Whisk in the crème fraîche and half the Fontina, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the filled potatoes in a small baking dish crimping foil around their bases to keep them upright, or push them into the cups of a muffin tin. Press the remaining cheese on top of the potatoes. (Note: the potatoes may be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated to be baked off later.)

5. Bake the potatoes until they are piping hot in the center and the cheese on top is just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. (If you have refrigerated the stuffed potatoes, they will take about 25 minutes.)

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