I don't know about you, but when I'm cooking a big dinner for a crowd, I like to get as much done ahead of time as possible. That's the key to enjoying your company and not stressing. So with the holidays ahead, you might be planning your meal for a large gathering and wondering what to serve as a starchy side dish. This one - a throwback to my days as a young wife in the 70s - is easily made ahead a day or even two or three, and then heated up before serving. And it's pretty irresistible to everyone - unless dairy is on your no-no list.
Start by baking the potatoes - Choose the brown skinned Idaho-type baking potatoes. Bake for about 45 to an hour; cool until you can handle them, then cut in half and scoop out the insides, leaving a small perimeter of potato intact. In a large bowl (DON'T use an electric mixer or you'll have gluey potatoes), mash the inside of the potato with a hand masher and mix with the rest of the ingredients - milk, cheddar cheese, sour cream, melted butter, milk, salt and pepper.
Top the potatoes with more cheese (and more chives if desired).
Bake in the oven for another 20 minutes or so until the top is golden brown. Then watch 'em disappear.
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
8 large brown potatoes - try to find a uniform size so they bake at the same time
4 T. melted butter
3/4 c. milk
1 c. sour cream
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
handful of chopped chives
Scrub the potatoes well and pierce once to allow steam to escape while cooking. Rub the skins with a little olive oil or butter. Bake on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees, for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning once. Cool slightly and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of the potato and place in a bowl. Be careful to leave a small perimeter of potato intact and try not to break the skin. I use a grapefruit spoon to extract the potato.
Mash with a hand masher, and add the rest of the ingredients, but reserve a little of the grated cheddar cheese for the top. Pile the filling into the potato shells and sprinkle with the reserved cheddar cheese. You can make these ahead of time up to this point.
About 1/2 hour before serving, put the potatoes on a cookie sheet and place in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.