Yield: 2 to 4 servings
These are a fun spin on your classic baked potato. You can make your mashed potato filling any way you prefer; if you want to make a more refined version, substitute heavy cream for the buttermilk. If you really want to go all out, use a delicious, runny triple crème-style cheese, such as Mt. Tam, Epoisses or Rush Creek Reserve (when in season).
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 large or 12 small)
1/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 to 2 ounces high-quality white cheddar cheese (or any other melting cheese)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 slices thick-cut bacon
6 to 8 chives, finely chopped
Crème fraiche or sour cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°. Lay the bacon slices out on a small, foil-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 to 13 minutes. Drain on paper towels; reserve the pan for cooking the potatoes. When cool, cut into 1-inch squares and eat the rest of the bacon.
Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of salted water; cook for 10 to 20 minute, depending on the size of the potatoes, until just tender. Drain and let cool for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, cut enough of the top off to allow you to scoop the inside out and a thin slice off the bottom of each potato to sit flat. Use a melon baller to scoop out as much of the filling as possible, leaving the potato skin and a thin shell of potato inside to form a cup. Run the potato filling through a potato ricer, food mill or mash by hand to a fine consistency (do NOT use a food processor unless you want potato gum). Return the potato filling to the pot and add the crème fraiche, buttermilk, butter, and Parmesan cheese and mix until smooth and well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the potato skins on the sheet pan used to cook the bacon. Season the inside with a light drizzle of vegetable oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a small chunk of Cheddar to the bottom of each potato, and fill with the mashed potatoes to form a rounded top, but do not overfill. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until warmed through and very lightly browned on top. Top with a small dollop of crème fraiche, a slice of bacon and a scattering of chives. Grate some fresh pepper over the top before serving.