Prior to last week, I only liked baked potatoes two ways and the first was so weird, I usually had the decency to keep it to myself. Many years ago, I had an internship a couple blocks from a lunch place with a baked potato sub-menu, full of odd and awesome topping combinations. My favorite involved a marinated tomato-pepper salad, avocado, cheese and — yesss — ranch dressing and it was amazing and wonderful and stop looking at me like that because I have missed and longed for it since. The second way I like baked potatoes is equally troublesome, the classic with “the works” involving heaps of cheese, butter, sour cream, bacon, chives and blood pressure medication. I no longer eat them the first way because the sandwich shop is 250 miles from here and also it has since closed; I usually resist eating them the second way because if I’m going to have all of the fat and calories of a golden, glistening and salted pile of French fries, I’d rather have them in said French fry format.
But last Monday, me, my 3 month-old and 73 month-old fell for some gorgeous 18 hour-old oyster mushrooms at the Greenmarket and, on a hunt to do something special with them, I came across a recipe for a baked potato with mushroom ragù in Food & Wine that sounded delicious and a little fancy and I had to.
The recipe was about 15 ways a headache — 4 pounds of mushrooms and adding onions near the end to a dry pan were among my grievances — that I was too sleep-deprived to see coming, but the results made a fine and a little luxurious weeknight meal with crumbled goat cheese and a bonus broccoli roast on the side. I’ve adjusted the steps and volumes to something that would have worked better the first time, which will come in hand the next time, which will be soon, because jacket weather calls for jacket potatoes, don’t you think?
Baked potato iterations, previously Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale and Baked Potato Soup
One year ago: Homemade Harissa
Two years ago: Lazy Pizza Dough + Favorite Margherita Pizza
Three years ago: Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel
Four years ago: Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt
Five years ago: Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake
Six years ago: Apple Cider Doughnuts
Seven years ago: My Family’s Noodle Kugel and Meatballs and Spaghetti
Eight years ago: Gluten-Free Chocolate Financiers
Nine years ago: Wild Mushroom and Stilton Galette
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Maple Pudding Cake
1.5 Years Ago: Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms
2.5 Years Ago: Bee Sting Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
4.5 Years Ago: Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll
Baked Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Ragù
Adapted a little generously from Food & Wine
4 baking potatoes (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, wild are wonderful, but sliced cremini or white mushrooms will also work
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth, or 1/4 cup sherry or marsala (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable or beef broth, plus a splash or two extra if needed
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
4 ounce-log soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives or flat-leaf parsley, to finish
Heat oven to 425°F. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork and rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place on rack and bake for 1 hour, or until tender in center when pierce with a skewer.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Turn heat to high, add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms brown, then release their juices and cook them off, about 10 minutes. Add wine, if using, scrape up any bits stuck to pan. Cook until evaporated. Add broth and thyme and bring to a simmer. Stir in final tablespoon of butter until melted. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Slit the potatoes and fluff the insides with a fork. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, a few goat cheese crumbles, a ladleful of the mushrooms and chives. Serve with extra mushrooms and goat cheese on the side.