Here is a potato perfect for a special occasion dinner. French Onion Twice-Baked Potatoes are indulgently rich and cheesy. Full of sour cream and gruyere cheese then topped with caramelized onions, these twice-baked potatoes are a crowd pleaser.
This is a great make-ahead recipe you can pop in the oven to heat when you are ready.
When I came home from college for breaks, my Mother always asked for dinner requests, what I had missed while I was away at school. She had heard the familiar college student complaint from me, about how bad the food was in the dining hall. The meals I missed were family favorites like fried chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken and dumplings. But I also had a request for something that was part of special meals, not everyday dinners. Twice-baked potatoes made appearances at Sunday dinners with my grandparents or at holiday meals.
Maybe it was because the potatoes were only served for special occasions that made them desirable. While that may be true, I also think the extra richness of the twice-baked potatoes made them memorable
It is important to start with the correct potato. There are two types - waxy or mealy. Waxy potatoes have a low amount of starch. They tend to keep their shape when cooked. Think red potatoes in potato salad.
The other type of potato is mealy. Russet or Idaho potatoes are mealy with a high starch content and a fluffy texture.
Typically used for baked potatoes, russets are long and spherically shaped. The perfect size and shape for some delicious add-ins. Scrub the peel under running water to remove any dirt. I prick the exterior with a fork on all sides, then rub olive oil all over the potato. Sprinkle some coarse salt on the potato and place in a 425-degree oven for 1 hour. You know the potatoes are done when you can give them a slight squeeze.
While the potatoes are baking, use this time to get the toppings ready. One of the first steps in this recipe is to caramelize the onions. I take my time when caramelizing onions so they slowly brown, releasing sugar. I like to use yellow or Spanish onions because they are a little sweeter. Cut the onion into thin slices, from stem to root.
I start the caramelization process with a little olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Once hot, I add the onions, season them with salt and pepper, and frequently stir so that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. But you will see some water leach out of the onions as they cook. This water will leave residue on the bottom of the pan as it evaporates. When this residue known as fond turns brown, I add a ¼ cup of water to deglaze the pan. Stir to release the fond, scraping the bottom of the pan when necessary.
You may need to repeat this process one more time, with the onions turning a deep translucent brown color. After about 10 minutes when the second addition of water has evaporated, add some thyme leaves and a ¼ cup of white wine. This is the final deglazing of the pan. Once the wine has been absorbed, turn the heat off. The onions are ready for the potatoes.
Fluffy and creamy
After taking the potatoes out of the oven, I let them cool for about 25 minutes. They will still be steaming hot inside but at least you can start to work with them. I slice off the very top of the potato, about the top third. The insides of the potatoes need to be scooped out and then mashed or riced into a bowl. I use a grapefruit spoon for this job. I find the serrated edge to be a big help.
Once all the potatoes are empty and the insides have been riced or mashed, I add the flavor enhancers. Butter, sour cream, heavy cream, gruyere cheese, and salt and pepper are added and mixed until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Now add the mix back to the potatoes. I like to add the potato mix gently into the shell, not pressing down.
Sprinkle some gruyere cheese on top and put the potatoes back in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. If you want to make this recipe ahead of time, prepare the potatoes up until the time they are baked the second time.
Almost done! Now add the caramelized onions to the top of the potato. Pile them on. Add some more shredded gruyere cheese on top of the onions. Remember the cheesy crouton in French onion soup, there is almost too much cheese. Treat the French Onion Twice-Baked Potatoes the same way. Put them under a broiler to melt and brown the cheese.
In today's slang, these potatoes are extra. They are extra in richness, flavor, and texture. When I write recipes I often test them 3-4 times, which means a lot of food in the house. I dole it out to my family, friends, and neighbors. These potatoes stayed home. I had one for lunch every day for about a week. Looking at this picture I want one now!
Sprinkle some chives on top for a bright herby finish. For your next big dinner, try French Onion Twice-Baked Potatoes. Your guests feel welcome and special, like a homecoming.
Here is another potato recipe, perfect for an appetizer - https://tenpoundcakecompany.com/parmesan-potato-tart
French Onion Twice-Baked Potatoes
- sheet pan
- Saute pan
- 6 russet potatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 yellow onions approximately 1.5 pounds/600 grams
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon thyme leaves 3 long stems
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¼ cup unsalted butter 4 tablespoons/2 ounces/
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup sour cream 2.7 ounces/75 grams
- ½ cup heavy cream 118ml
- 2 cups gruyere, shredded 6 ounces/ 168 grams
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 425°
- Scrub potatoes under running water, removing any dirt. Prick each potato on all sides, about 10 times with a fork.
- Coat the exterior of the potatoes with 1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil. Sprinkle all 6 potatoes with 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Place on a sheet pan and put in the oven.
- Bake the potatoes for one hour, until you can squeeze the sides. Cool for approximately 25 minutes.
- While the potatoes are baking, caramelize the onions. Slice two onions into thin strips, root to stem end.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the sliced onions.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the onions occasionally so they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. it is best to slowly caramelize the onions so they do not burn.
- After 15 minutes and as the onions cook, a liquid will be released which will leave a residue on the bottom of the pan. This residue is known as fond which will turn brown.
- Add ¼ cup of water to deglaze the pan. Scrap the bottom to release the fond. After 10 more minutes, you will need to repeat this step another time.
- Five minutes after the last deglazing, add the thyme leaves and ¼ cup of white wine. Scrap the bottom of the pan to release the fond. The onions should be a translucent brown color. Take the pan off the heat to wait for the potatoes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 400°.
- When the potatoes have cooled for about 25 minutes, cut the top third off. Scrap the interior of the potatoes out, mashing or ricing into a bowl. I like to use a grapefruit spoon for this process. I think the serrated edge helps.
- Add the unsalted butter, kosher salt, ground black pepper, sour cream, heavy cream, and 1 cup of shredded gruyere cheese to the bowl of mashed potato. Mix until smooth and creamy.
- Add the potato insides back to the shells. Gently add the mix to the skins, being careful not to mash everything. Sprinkle ½ cup of gruyere cheese on the top of the potatoes. Place on a sheet tray and back in the oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, take the potatoes out of the oven. Add the caramelized onions to the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle the last ½ cup of shredded gruyere on top of the caramelized onions.
- Place the sheet tray under a broiler to brown the cheese until bubbling. Sprinkle chopped chives on top of the potatoes.