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We all love them, and for Hannah Gregory they were a staple of her childhood and teenage years, but here she takes the humble loaded potato skin and adds a liberal dash of adult pizazz. . .



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Continuing on with last month’s 50 shades of beige theme, I am here to deliver the most outstanding loaded potato skins recipe, if I do say so myself.

As a child (and teenager) the ultimate treat was a trip to TGI Friday’s. You know the place, with the eye-wateringly bright red and white stripes, the most enthusiastic servers you have ever met – complete with badge-laden braces – and food that was almost certainly shipped in and microwaved. I was so obsessed that my childhood dream was to be a TGI waitress – hilarious for anyone who has worked with me in my adult life as there is a general rule and that is ‘Hannah is not to be client facing!’.

Whatever I ordered, it was always accompanied by a side of skins (bacon and cheese, please) and in true American fashion, they didn’t need to be a side, they were a meal in themselves. As I got older, we’re talking 16/17, TGI’s still remained our haunt as it was the only place that would serve us alcohol without ID. We would excitedly gather around a table every Friday night before hitting Yates (insert vomit emoji here), order pitcher after pitcher of sugary sweet cocktails of all the colours of the rainbow and for little old me, a side of skins, please. This was to the horror of my friends because ya’ know, “eating is cheating” and all the other ridiculous sayings that boozed up 17-year-old louts chanted. I’m just going to take this moment to say I am cringing as I write this, but I feel I really need to set the scene. Please don’t judge me, I was a product of my environment, okay? And that environment was the lad and ladette culture of the early 00s. . . where’s that vomit emoji gone.

Amrican style loaded potato skins (47297352)
Amrican style loaded potato skins (47297352)

I digress, as teenage me matured and left behind the TGI Fridays scene, my tastes changed. I was at fashion school now DAH-ling, only Sketch would do – what a wonderful thing student loans were. I morphed from a Blue WKD guzzling emo kid into a pretentious Champagne-guzzling fashion student. And still I didn’t know who I was (happy to say that now at the tender age of. . . you don’t need to know that, but let’s just say a lot older than university age, I am pretty happy with who I am and my alcohol and restaurant choices), but the one thing that has always remained true through my dabbles in a vast array of subcultures? My love for those skins. Such a simple thing you think, but there are a lot of factors to consider. . . the actual skin can’t be flapping around in the wind, it needs to be crisp and structured to hold its filling. There needs to be an equal amount of creamy potato and flavourings going on, no one wants a bland skin. The cheese needs to be melted and bubbling to the point of risk of loss of tastebuds, but not allowed to crisp. It’s an art.

And so, after years of tweaking, testing on my horrified uni housemates back in the day (“a carb. . . with cheese. . . how very dare you”) to my more appreciative beige loving boyfriend of the present time, I feel I’m there. I have upgraded them slightly with the addition of roasted garlic and a hit of paprika. I hope you enjoy!

AMERICAN STYLE LOADED POTATO SKINS

Spotify Playlist – WanderSups Dirty Dishes

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients:

4 large maris piper potatoes (use more if they are on the small side)

1 whole bulb of garlic

Olive oil

Rock salt for rubbing

3 teaspoons cornflour

150g cubed pancetta

Handful of grated parmesan cheese

300ml sour cream

50g cheddar grated

50g grated mozzarella cheese

50g blue cheese (I use gorgonzola)

Small bunch of chives

Smoked paprika for dusting

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Wrap the bulb of garlic in tin foil.

Place your potatoes on an oven tray, cover in olive oil and rock salt, turn them over and repeat so they are completely covered.

Sit the wrapped garlic alongside them and pop into the hot oven for an hour, turning them halfway through.

Pop the pancetta in a cold pan on a medium heat, fry till golden. Once cooked, remove the pancetta from the pan, leaving the rendered fat behind in the pan (do not throw this away!).

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving about 0.5cm around the edge (this will help keep the structure of the skin). Reserve the potato innards.

Make a slurry with your cornflour and hot water, you want this to be coating the back of a spoon.

Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the potato skins, inside and out with the cornflour slurry – this is where the crispiness comes from. Pop back into the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack on with your filling. Mash the potato you scooped out with some salt & peps and 200ml of the sour cream.

Gently squeeze the roasted garlic from its cloves into the sour cream mash.

Stir in half the pancetta cubes.

Remove the skins from the oven and using a pastry brush, brush them all over with the pancetta fat.

Pop back in the oven for five minutes.

Remove the skins from the oven and sprinkle over the grated parmesan, then back in the oven for five minutes.

Spoon your mash into the skins, cover with the grated cheese and put under a hot grill until golden and bubbling.

Meanwhile, mix your blue cheese with the remaining sour cream and finely chop the chives.

Remove the skins from the grill, spoon over the blue cheese mix and dust with paprika and the chives.

Find out about Hannah’s upcoming Supper Clubs and what she is currently cooking via Instagram @WanderSups wandersups.com