Damn do I love a baked potato! Especially if they're cooked in coals and the outside goes all crisp but chewy and charred and delicious... remind me to buy a barbecue, would you?!
Until then, I have to be satisfied with those baked in the oven and topped with a warm and comforting mornay-type sauce with spinach thrown in for pretend nutritional value. Or something. Very difficult to say no to, very easy to veganise if you're that way inclined (I already use soy milk in everything and vegan margarine is an easy swap, as is veggie cheese or nutritional yeast).
They're really quite substantial so I usually only get through about half a potato, with side dishes. I also choose rather large potatoes, so there's plenty of room for the filling and plenty of soft creamy potato inside. The sauce will do about four potatoes.
1-2 potatoes per person, scrubbed to within an inch of their life
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1.5 cups milk
1 bunch fresh spinach or 1 box frozen, thawed and drained
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
at least 1 cup cheese, grated with extra for topping
1. Preheat oven to 220C.
2. Rub potatoes with olive oil and salt and place directly on the oven rack to cook for one hour. You can par-boil them if you're in a hurry and put them into the oven to finish + crisp up.
3. Remove potatoes and gently cut in half lengthways. Scoop out potato flesh, leaving about 1cm of potato on the skin to form little potato bowls.
4. While potatoes are cooking, melt the butter with the flour over medium heat. Stir for at least 1 minute, then add milk, bay leaf and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until sauce boils and thickens (I cook it over high heat because I'm a rebel and I've never had a problem with lumpy sauce). Add spinach, salt, pepper and cheese, and remove bay leaf. Stir in potato flesh.
5. Pile everything back into the potato shells and top with cheese. Bake another 15 minutes or so until heated through and cheese on top is browned.
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