True story: I go through more chili powder and cumin than just about any others of the spices in my kitchen. When I adopt a recipe into my regular rotation, like Twice-Baked Potatoes, it's rarely long before I'm applying a liberal dose of these two spices and figuring out how to work some black beans and corn into the mix. I blame Tex-Mex Tuesday in my college cafeteria — it's been over a decade since my last meal there, but my love for these flavors is still going strong.
Now, this recipe makes quite a lot — sixteen good-sized servings. That's great news if you have a whole crowd to feed, but even if you don't, these stuffed potato halves will keep in the fridge for about 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
If you have any leftover filling, keep that, too. It freezes well and is perfect for throwing in egg scrambles or for making a quick burrito for lunch.
Southwestern Twice-Baked Potatoes
Makes 16 servings
large russet potatoes (about 8 pounds)
small yellow onion, diced small
small red bell pepper, diced small
(13.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 teaspoons
1 1/2 teaspoons
To serve: sour cream, chopped avocados, thinly-sliced scallions, minced cilantro, extra cheese
Heat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scrub the potatoes clean and prick all over with a fork. Rub them all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake until easily pierced with a fork, 50 to 60 minutes, turning the potatoes once or twice during cooking. Allow to cool enough to handle.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Warm a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking the meat into small crumbles, until the beef is thoroughly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the cooked beef to a clean bowl.
Wipe the skillet clean and warm another teaspoon of oil. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook until translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the red peppers and cook until the peppers are softened, another 5 minutes. Add the corn and black beans, and cook until warmed through, another 2 minutes. Add the garlic, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, another 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the cumin, and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat.
When the potatoes are cooked and have cooled just enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the insides, creating a hollowed-out shell about 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the shells in rows on the baking sheet.
Combine the potato insides and the sour cream in a large bowl. Mash until the sour cream is fully incorporated and the potatoes are creamy (add more sour cream for a richer filling). Fold in 1 cup of the cheese, followed by 5 cups of the filling. (You may have more filling than you need; refrigerate or freeze any leftover filling for quick burrito fillings or egg scrambles.)
Divide the mashed potato filling evenly between the potato shells. Use the back of a soup spoon to really press the filling into the shells, then pile more on top. Divide the remaining cheese over the tops of the potatoes.
Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the potatoes are warm. Cool briefly, then serve with extra sour cream, cheese, scallions, or any other favorite toppings.
Vegetarian Tex-Mex Potatoes: These potatoes are plenty hearty even without the ground beef. If you're a vegetarian or lightening up your meat intake, just skip the beef and carry on with the recipe.
Make-Ahead Twice Baked Potatoes: Once you've filled the potatoes (but not topped with cheese), refrigerate any potatoes you will not eat right away. They will keep for up to 5 days. To serve, bake for 10 minutes, top with cheese, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Freezer Twice Baked Potatoes: Once you've filled the potatoes (but not topped with cheese), you can also wrap the potatoes in plastic wrap or foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before baking; or wrap the frozen potato loosely in foil and bake until warm, then uncover, top with cheese, and finish baking.