Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Baked potatoes stuffed with bacon, anchovies and sage

Baked potatoes are real autumn/winter food, comfort food of the highest order, unless they are prepared by the cafe five floors below my office, where potatoes appear to be baked early in the morning and then left to harden on a warmish plate for hours on end until they are requested, when they are stuffed with over-salted fillings and sold at an exorbitant price. Those baked potatoes would be enough to turn me off potatoes for life, except that proper baked potatoes can be so good (for anyone who hasn't tried them, Delia's baked potatoes with leek and Boursin are utterly delicious...).

Jamie's baked potatoes are slightly different - not the huge meal-in-themselves that the term 'baked potato' probably conjures up, although they could be if you used large potatoes. He suggests medium waxy potatoes; mine were pretty small, so I did two each. It couldn't be easier: preheat the oven to 200C, and stick the end of either an apple corer or a conventional (not speed) peeler into the potato and twist it round as you cut right through it, as though you are coring it. Prick each potato with a fork a few times and rub in olive oil and sea salt. For each potato take a rasher of bacon and top it with 2 sage leaves, an anchovy fillet, a sliver of garlic and lemon zest. Wrap it into a sort of sausage shape and stuff the potato with it; you can use the cores of the potatoes, halved, to plug the ends of each potato. Bake the potatoes for an hour or so, turning every so often, until nicely cooked.

I served the potatoes with lamb leg steaks and peas cooked in a mix of stock and water. I will admit that the picture (above) doesn't give much insight into the potatoes; the stuffing is invisible once the potatoes are cooked. These potatoes were, however, utterly scrumptious. Anchovy-haters need not worry; the anchovies lend a depth of flavour that is not particularly anchovy-like. The potatoes were crunchy on the outside and tender inside; the stuffing made them particularly good to eat and I will definitely try this again, because it was easy but really tasty, which is ideal for a mid-week supper, or even for a side-dish in a dinner-party context (you may gather that I don't do 'dinner parties' as such, just friends round for dinner...). You could easily vary the stuffing ingredients - I am imagining the bacon rasher with sundried tomatoes and basil and even cheese. Jamie's vegetable dishes are unbelievably good - so good that my mother, who was brought up on home-cooked everything and yearned for shop-bought cake as a child, then grew up to become a working mum with little time to spend in the kitchen, and now loves to read cookbooks but rarely actually cooks from them - actually asked me to give her a copy of the book and has tried quite a few of these vegetable dishes to great result. Honestly - Jamie has converted Simon to mussels and scallops and my mother to cooking out of a cook book - whatever will happen next? Maybe I will start eating raw tomatoes...

1 comment:

FreyaE said...

Yum, my favourite - baked potatoes! I like them prepared the 'healthy' way though - stuffed with butter, cheese, sour cream, fried pancetta (or bacon) and chives....
This sounds like a great recipe though!