Cooking On A Budget: Fontina Stuffed Potatoes

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fontina Stuffed Potatoes


One of the things I really love on occasion is a twice baked potato. Since we are splurging and going off budget with some grilled porterhouse steaks, I wanted to exemplify a steak house dinner right here at home. In some of the best steak restaurants in the country they have a side offering of a potato gratin like Craft Restaurants owned by Tom Colicchio.

Combining the idea of a gratin with cheese into a stuffed potato skin seemed to make perfect sense. Adding in some butter, half and half and some caramelized onion which goes wonderfully with steak, lots of cracked pepper and salt, a bit of sour cream and chives the flavors will meld into one tasty and exquisite bite.

Joining the cast of the stuffed potato and grilled steak was a ratatouille. We have just about all of the vegetables needed for that, so a purchase of a small eggplant keeps this dinner cost down considering the splurge on the protein.

For us it was a splurge splurged even though I purchased the steaks on sale. The cheese did not break the bank and my original intention for it was to make a potato gratin. Fontina is a mild, buttery and earthy type of cheese that originated in Italy in 1477. It is a semi-soft slightly creamy cheese that melts well and is used widely in cooking and has a place on cheese platters as well.

After making these stuffed potatoes I would use it again. It's so mild it does not take over the flavor of the potato. Should you want a more cheesy flavor I suggest using a sharp cheddar. Taking lead from when my husband makes them I lopped off the tops. However in doing so, I ended up with enough filling for at least 3 good sized portions and probably could have done four adequate portions if I had cut the potatoes in half lengthwise.

***Lesson: don't do what someone else does. Follow your own instincts.***

  • 2 large baking potatoes (I use Russet)
  • 6 tbsp. butter (2 for caramelizing and 4 for the potatoes)
  • 1 medium onion - small dice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3-4 tbsp. half and half
  • 1 tbsp. freeze dried chives (fresh if you have them)
  • 1/2 cup Fontina cheese - grated, plus more for on top
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. In a frying pan over medium heat melt 2 tbsp. butter. Add in the onions, stir to coat and let the onions caramelize over medium low heat. Stir occasionally. You can add a teaspoon of sugar if you have sharp onions to add a little more sweetness and it helps in the caramelization process.
  2. Bake your potatoes in a 400° oven for 1 1/4 hours until a fork is easily inserted. Remember to make a slit in the potato prior to baking. You don't want the potato to explode!
  3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice in half length wise and scoop out the potato leaving a little bit on all sides of the potato and put the mixture in a bowl.
  4. Begin to mash the potatoes and add in some softened butter and keep mashing.
  5. Add in the half and half (or milk) 2 tablespoons at first. Then the sour cream. Mix and add more half and half to make the mixture creamier.
  6. Last, add in the chives, 1/2 cup of the grated cheese and salt and black pepper to taste.
  7. Fill each skin and top with some more grated cheese.
  8. Bake at 350° until the cheese melts to your liking. 
  9. Increase the recipe as necessary to make more.
Here was our delicious dinner. The potatoes were cheesy good and the steak grilled to perfection! The ratatouille was very tasty and complimented everything very well.

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