Sometimes you just make a recipe. Sometimes you have a food adventure. And sometimes, you go down the rabbit hole. These cider sautéed mushrooms on potato skins is decidedly in the third category. BUT — promise, our rabbit hole is your easy path to something delicious to snack on while your favorite team takes to the field Thanksgiving weekend.
A great football dish was the goal. Something familiar and comforting, but a bit elevated and made with cider. Cobbling together 5 million recipes and untold hours researching on the internet, we came up with a winner for when you're tired of leftovers, it's game day, and you need a hot appetizer.
We started with Smitten Kitchen's mushroom ragu, decided to put it on potato skins instead of baked potatoes, then figured out the best way to make it ahead of the holidays to give you more time with friends and family.
Mushroom Ragu Ingredients
(Note, there's a stray shallot in the photo. It's a decorative shallot. No shallot used in this recipe)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small white onion, finely chopped (that's a large white onion in the photo)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, we used mainly white, cremini and some shitake, but go wild.
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Treehorn Dry Cider
1/2 cup vegetable or beef broth, plus a splash or two extra if needed — we used beef broth
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
4 ounce-log soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives or flat-leaf parsley, to finish — we used flat-leaf parsley.
Potato Skin Ingredients
5 lbs Russet potatoes — we like smaller ones, they cook faster and are easier to share for this dish.
4 tbps oil, butter or lard, divided. We used olive oil to bake the potatoes, and bacon fat for the skins (heated up a bit so fully liquid).
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
A Note on Ingredients
We follow Cook's Illustrated lead in the controversy of whether mushrooms should be washed. Never if raw, immediately before adding to the pan if cooking.
Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub potatoes and let them dry completely before rubbing with the two tablespoons of whichever fat you choose. Bake potatoes on a sheet until fork tender and skins are crisped.
While you're waiting for the potatoes to cook and cool enough to handle, make the mushroom ragu, full instructions on Smitten Kitchen.
Heat olive oil and two tablespoons of the butter on medium, add garlic and onion until softened. Turn up heat to medium high, and add mushrooms, salt and pepper. When mushrooms are brown and the juices have cooked off, add cider to deglaze and once evaporated, turn down heat, add broth and thyme and simmer. Add final tablespoon of butter and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove from heat and cover lightly with foil.
Cut potatoes lengthwise and scoop out inside, leaving about a 1/4 inch in the skin. Keep the leftover potato for another dish (we made a mushroom potato soup with it). Brush top and bottom of skins with remaining fat, salt and pepper. Don't be shy, potatoes love salt. Place face down on baking sheet with rack and cook for about 5 minutes, longer if you're using larger potatoes. Use tongs to flip and return to oven until rims are golden brown and crispy.
Remove from oven, sprinkle goat cheese on the skins, layer on mushroom ragu and a bit more cheese and return to oven for a few minutes until it's piping hot and cheese is softened. A shredded fontina cheese would also be a great choice if goat cheese isn't your jam. Go watch football and enjoy!
A Note on Making Ahead
We tried a couple of different routes for making these ahead of time. By far the best was to bake and scoop the potatoes ahead of time, so on game day all you have to do is broil the skins, make the ragu and assemble. You can keep them in the fridge for a few days, and they freeze really well. Lay on a baking sheet in the freezer for an hour, then store in a bag for quick potato skins that you can top with anything! Vacuum seal or wrap tightly in plastic for long-term storage. We let the skins thaw for about 30 minutes before cooking, and they tasted just a delightful and crispy as the day we made them fresh.
Another option is to freeze these fully assembled (again, on a baking sheet until solid, then in a bag). They were pretty good, but the potato skin texture wasn't quite as tasty. We'd certainly eat it on a weeknight, but don't know that we would serve it to guests on a big game day. To reheat, throw the fully loaded skins in a 350F oven for 30 minutes, or a bit longer for larger skins, no need to thaw. What is needed is to let them get really hot, not just warm. Cook them until it looks like the rim of the skins is getting a tad bit darker.
Lastly, we tried broiling the skins, and freezing them cooked, it was just meh and not recommended.