Totally comforting. Totally EASY. Your own personalized baked potato bar, with all the fixings. Just the thing to feed your football crowd!
Actually, my first thought wasn’t football. This idea came to me while brainstorming dinner for my daughter’s camping-themed birthday party.
And what’s one of the best camping meals? IMHO, potatoes cooked over the hot embers of a campfire, topped to each camper’s liking – which in our family involves lots of cheese!
I pitched the idea of a baked potato bar. And knowing Lucy’s love for spuds… of course it was a go! (Minus the campfire… we baked them up jacket style, which I’ll explain below).
But then I thought… what a great way to entertain this fall, when hungry friends and family gather to cheer on the team!
Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen, prepping food for the crowd, and not part of the action. This meal makes it easy!
The oven does the heavy lifting. Potatoes slow bake for 1 ½ hours while you kick back and enjoy the game, and since the toppings can be assembled ahead and refrigerated, there is little left to be done.
Plus, with your DIY toppings bar, you can cover lots of different food preferences and aversions.
My main recipe calls for traditional American football flavors, which will be a hit on game day.
Some of my favorite ways to load up the spud are:
- Broccoli & blue cheese sauce
- Black beans, salsa, cheddar and jalapenos
- Turkey chili, sour cream and scallions
- And “everything” !!!! Watch out!
But as I’m so excited to make this all autumn long, I’ve thrown in some bonus ideas topping bars alternatives to mix it up on any given Tuesday night.
But back to the POTATOES… this is the important part. Don’t wrap them in foil!
Jacket potatoes are baked without being wrapped, right on the oven rack, as is the norm in England. The result is a crispy skin with a fluffy interior, the perfect blank canvas for your favorite toppings.
(When potatoes are wrapped in foil, they steam, resulting in a soft skin and gummy insides. Trust me, give the “jacket” method a try, you’ll never look back!)
2 bonus ideas to top your Jacket Potatoes:
One is a classic spinach and artichoke combo, and the other goes in the Indian-ish direction, my inspiration being those addictive Indian apps, samosas, which are crispy pockets of goodness stuffed with potatoes and spices:
Spinach & Artichokes with Feta
- Saute two chopped garlic cloves in olive oil. Add 8 ounces baby spinach and a pinch of nutmeg, and stir until wilted. Stir in a 14-ounce can of well-drained chopped artichoke hearts (not marinated), and season the mixture with salt. Cook to remove most of the moisture.
- Mash 1/2 cup feta with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt. Squeeze a little lemon juice in and add a pinch of oregano. Mix well.
- Serve the potatoes with the spinach artichoke mixture, and drizzle with the feta sauce.
Indian-ish potato bar
- Cook 1 chopped shallot in butter over low heat for a minute or two. Add 1 or two teaspoons of grated garlic and fresh ginger, and 1 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, curry powder and kosher salt. Add 1 cup lentils and a cinnamon stick, then pour in 2 cups of water or broth. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. If the lentils get too dry before they are soft, add some more liquid.
- While the lentils are cooking, make a quick raita by combining ½ cup grated cucumber, 1 cup Greek yogurt, ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of ground coriander and cumin if you have it.
- Serve the potatoes with the warm lentils and a dollop of raita.
Jacket Potatoes & All the Fixings
- 6 russet potatoes scrubbed clean
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup salsa
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 bunch broccoli steamed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup blue cheese
- 1 batch beanless turkey chili see recipe below
- 1 jar pickled jalapenos drained
- 1 cup sour cream
Optional but nice:
- ½ cup crumbled bacon bits
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup chopped scallions
Quick Beanless Turkey (or beef) Chili
- ½ large red onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 large jalapeno pepper chopped, or use green bell pepper for less heat
- 1 pound ground turkey
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8- ounce can tomato sauce
- Preheat your oven to 400 F. Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, and cut an X on the tops, about ½-inch deep. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the potatoes over and turn the oven down to 350. Continue to bake for another 45 minutes.
- While the potatoes are roasting (or ahead of time if you don’t want to be cooking while the potatoes roast), make the chili, following the directions below, and also make the blue cheese sauce. To make the sauce, pour the cream in a small saucepan and simmer for 4-5 minutes until thickened, stirring with a heat proof spatula. Add in half of the cheese and cook for another minute or two, mashing it in until it is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining cheese. Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.
- Place the remaining items in serving bowls and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When you are ready to serve, rewarm the chili and the cheese sauce and set the toppings out on a counter with plates and servingware. Split the potatoes down the middle, not cutting all the way through, and squeeze the ends toward each other to create an opening and fluffy interior. Serve warm with the toppings.
TO MAKE TURKEY CHILI:
- Cook the onion in the olive oil until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder and salt and cook for 1 minute. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, for a few minutes until it is done. Pour in the tomato sauce, bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered to avoid splatters, for 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
TO MAKE BEEF CHILI:
- Begin by browning the beef, then pour off the extra fat. Add the garlic, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, and cook for another 10-20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.