City Gay and Country Gay

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Eat me. I'm an Irish tater pig.

Because of my exceptionally busy social life, I'm not going to be home when the deadline hits, so I'm delivering my post now. (And I drafted this yesterday, so the post date makes it look like I'm super early.) Enjoy.

Before I went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for my reinvented tater pig, the biggest question in my mind was, "What kind of cheese should I use?"

It's no surprise that I am a fan of all cheeses, and for a moment I thought something like a bleu cheese or gorgonzola could be interesting. However, I quickly ruled these out because I feared the taste would be too overwhelming. While shopping the cheese area of Fred Meyer, I saw one of my new favorites: Dubliner. It has a sharp taste and a flaky consistency. It has just enough of a bite to make it interesting but not overpowering. I knew that would be what I needed for my cosmopolitanized - and slightly Irish - tater pig.

I had also made a decision to make the tater pig a twice-baked tater pig. In my family, twice-baked potatoes are a holiday favorite. They're rich and stuffed with sour cream, bacon, butter, and cheese. I decided to play off of my mom's recipe for twice-baked potatoes and hoped I'd come out with something more sophisticated than the fair's tater pig.

The beginning is simple: prepare a baked potato. Because I knew my week would be busy, I did this a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerated the potato until I was ready to use it. When I was ready, I split the potato down the middle and did my best to scoop out the innards. This is unlike a normal twice-baked potato where one would cut the potato in half, scoop out the inside, and then refill the halves. I liked that I was going to be putting the potato back into a full-sized potato; however, this also proved slightly difficult (but manageable).

After I had scooped out the insides, I mashed the potato with a spoon, shredded about 1/4 cup of cheese into it, and added a large dollop of sour cream. I also added just a bit of salt and pepper, though in retrospect I think there was enough seasoning in the sausage to take care of that.

As for the sausage, I went with an unexciting Jimmy Dean sausage patty for my sausage choice. Actually, I thought it would be unexciting, but there was a bit of a spicy kick to the sausage, which was a surprise in a good way. I fried four of the patties, knowing I'd only use two in the recipe. I used the other two as an appetizer, which made me excited to get to the sausage actually in the tater pig.

When the sausage was done, I simply patted the grease out with paper towels and tore one of the patties into the potato, sour cream, and cheese mixture. I placed one patty in the bottom of the potato and then stuffed the mixture back into the potato skin. This, again, was a bit challenging because I didn't want to tear the potato, and because of the added ingredients, the space wasn't really big enough for the filling. However, this allowed the filling to be piled high on the skin.

The potato went into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes, just enough to heat everything through. In retrospect, I should have sprinkled some cheese on the top and let it bake a bit longer to give a crunchier top.

Brad eyed the potato, but I wasn't going to let that little gnome eat all of my hard work. Unfortunately, my digital camera has problems taking close-ups of food, so the photos of the finished product turned out terribly. You'll just have to look past Brad's head for an idea of the finished Irish tater pig.

The potato was tasty, and the Dubliner cheese added a different taste than what one gets with the regular spicy nacho cheese. The sour cream was a bit much, so I would probably put in a little bit less in the future. But the sour cream also causes the dish to be extremely rich, which helps makes this its own meal.

The most exciting part of my reinvented pig was the way the sausage was spread throughout the potato. At the fair, an eater gets one sausage link (which I'm sure is plenty for some). Because of the patty in the bottom of the potato and the sausage sprinkled throughout the mixture, there was a bit of sausage in every bite. This helped feed my love for the sausage.

The potato was filling on its own, but it is a time consuming concoction. Baking the potato takes about 80 minutes in a 350 degree oven, preparation time takes about 15 minutes (which is mostly cooking the sausage), and reheating time is about 35 minutes. While I might not make this often, I can see me using it as a side dish in the more traditional twice-baked potato way but with the reinvented filling.

The tater pig seems like such an Idaho county fair stand by, but by adding a bit of an Irish twist, the fair guilty pleasure becomes a slightly refined and filling meal. However, even with the refinement, there is still a very country feel to the new and improved pig.

1 comment:

City Gay said...

I loves me some twice-baked potato.