Potatoes are nutritional powerhouses and this is a way to eat them, ‘skins and all’. Use olive oil instead of butter if you are afraid of fat, but butter tastes better and it’s good for you. We bake rather than deep-fry the potato skins because it is easier, healthier and safer than cooking them in a saucepan of oil.
8 medium baking potatoes (Roosters are good)
50g pancetta, cut into small cube
3 tablespoons butter, melted (or olive oil)
Sea salt and freshly ground black peppers
120g cheddar or other strong-flavoured hard cheese, grated
100ml sour cream
100ml guacamole (home-made or shop-bought)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1. Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
2. Make a few small cuts in each potato with a sharp knife (you can use a fork but it’s harder to do). Bake the potatoes directly on the oven rack (without an oven tray) until soft and easy to pierce with a fork (40-60 minutes depending on the size of the potato).
3. While the potatoes are baking, fry the pancetta in a dry pan until crispy and set aside.
4. When the potatoes are cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Slice each potato in half horizontally. Scoop out the soft flesh and mash in a bowl with half the melted butter (or olive oil) and a little salt and black pepper.
5. Rub both sides of the potato skins with the rest of the melted butter or oil and fill with the mashed potato and top with pancetta and grated cheese. Grill under high heat until the cheese is bubbling and golden (3-4 minutes but check after 2 minutes).
5. Serve with a bowl of sour cream, guacamole and sliced spring onions for everyone to load their own potato.
Hummous is lovely with this too – serve instead of the guacamole.
Use crème fraîche instead of sour cream.
Gruyère, Comté or even Emmenthal cheese can be used instead of cheddar. Or if have a piece of leftover Taleggio or blue cheese, cut or crumble it and use it.