Monday, December 30, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

A simple twist on a classic pub menu favorite that's sure to please adults and kids alike!

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

Despite what you may think about me, there was a time in my life, specifically during my late teens, when I was a very picky eater. And for a good portion of that time, I'd only ever order one thing when eating out at a restaurant with my family or friends -- crispy potato skins, preferably piled high with mounds of gooey cheese, bits of crunchy bacon, and thinly sliced green onions (but hold the sour cream).

I can't tell you why I fixated on potato skins or why my obsession with eating them lasted so long, but I can tell you that, out of nowhere one day, I just up and quit 'em, cold turkey. I'm guessing my body simply had enough of them and decided to move on to other promising appetizer options like buffalo wings and jalapeno poppers.


Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

I tried going back to potato skins a few years after the beginning of my hiatus from the cheesy starters but found they just didn't taste the same. I knew that I wouldn't be able to count on restaurant potato skins to bring back those nostalgic food feelings anymore -- am I the only one who has those? -- so I set it upon myself to perfect the method of making homemade potato skins so I could retreat to my own kitchen whenever the craving hit.

If you want satisfyingly crispy and cheesy potato skins, then it truly does come down the potatoes you use, as well as how you prepare them before loading them up with toppings.

Russet Potatoes | Taste As You Go
Russet Potatoes

First off, you'll want to use russet potatoes for your potato skins. They're low in moisture and high in starch, so they'll crisp up nicely in the oven for you.

Baking Russet Potatoes | Taste As You Go
Baking Russet Potatoes

Next, don't wrap the potatoes in foil before baking. The steam that's released will make the skin soft (i.e. not crispy at all). Instead, place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and let them hang out in the oven for about an hour or so until they're tender.

Just don't forget to pierce them with a fork first!

Baked Potato Quarters | Taste As You Go
Baked Potato Quarters

See how fluffy the potatoes are on the inside?

It's all about the russets.

Crispy Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Crispy Potato Skins

Once you've scooped out the flesh of the potatoes, then brush both sides of the potato skins with some melted butter and season generously with salt and pepper. Put the skins back in the oven, skin-side up, until they're nice and crispy and golden brown around the edges.

Crispy Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Crispy Potato Skins

Crispy Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Crispy Potato Skins

You want your potato skins to look like this.

Once you've reached this point, then you can say you've mastered the basic technique behind crispy potato skins. All that's left now is to add the toppings and serve 'em up, and, really, you're only limited here by your imagination.

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

Since I'm sharing a recipe -- if you can call it that -- for Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins, I thought it only fair to show you how to finish them off.

You'll want to top each potato skin with some tomato sauce. How much you use will depend on your personal preferences. I used about one heaping tablespoon of sauce for each.

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

Next comes the shredded mozzarella. Be generous with it and don't skimp! The cheesier the better, in my opinion.

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

Finish off with some pepperoni slices and voila! These bad boys are ready to go back into the oven.

By the way... I quartered the pepperoni slices to make the potato skins easier to eat (i.e. to prevent the pepperoni slices from sliding off when you bite into them).

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins | Taste As You Go
Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins

The potato skins only need about five minutes in the oven to melt all the cheese. Let the potato skins cool for a minute or two before arranging them on a serving platter and serving to yourself your guests.

Do you have a favorite topping for potato skins? If so, then let me know in the comments below!

Pepperoni Pizza Potato Skins
Yield: 2-4 servings | Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • Melted unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tomato sauce
  • Dried oregano (optional)
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Sliced pepperoni, quartered

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Scrub each potato really well and pierce with a fork.
  3. Place the potatoes directly on the middle oven rack and bake for 1 hour or until tender.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  5. Quarter each potato lengthwise and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Save the extra potato to mash with milk and butter for another meal.
  6. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  7. Brush both sides of each potato skin with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Place the potatoes skin-side up on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake the potato skins for 15 minutes or until crisp to the touch and the edges are golden brown.
  9. Remove the potato skins from the oven. Top each with tomato sauce, dried oregano (if desired), shredded mozzarella, and pepperoni.
  10. Place the potatoes back in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
  11. Remove the potato skins from the oven and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes before serving.
Recipe by Michelle Rittler | Taste As You Go

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