A stuffed baked potato is a dish in which a potato is cooked in the oven, cut open, and then filled with a variety of toppings. For the best results, the pulp of the potato is often removed and lightly mashed. Doing this leaves a shell for the potato and its fillings. Stuffed baked potatoes can be filled with butter, sour cream, chives, cheese, and vegetables. For a heartier dish, the potato may also be stuffed with small pieces of meat, such as grilled chicken or barbecued beef.
When making this dish, the best type of potato to use is a large variety, such as a Russet. The potato is usually lightly rubbed with oil and seasoned with salt before being placed in a hot oven to bake. The skin of the potato should be pierced a bit to allow steam to escape. A microwave may be used to cook the potato, but oven-baking will give better results. The potato is done when it is tender and can easily be pierced with a fork.
After the potato is fully cooked, it is sliced open and a majority of the pulp inside is removed. The skin of the potato should be left intact, with a thin wall of potato attached to it. The pulp is then mashed, seasoned, and returned to the potato skin shell. This interior potato should be mashed lightly, just to give the potato a fluffy texture. Some recipes call for the toppings to be mixed with the mashed potato filling, while other recipes have the other ingredients placed on top of the potato filling.
Stuffed baked potatoes are versatile and can be filled with a wide variety of additional ingredients. Traditional baked potato toppings, such as butter, sour cream, chives, cheese, and bacon are often used when making stuffed baked potatoes. Vegetables, like broccoli, mushrooms, and spinach, are also popular options. When making stuffed baked potatoes with vegetables, a cheese sauce, ranch dressing, or salsa may be added for extra flavor. Salt and pepper are usually used to further season the dish.
The addition of protein can make a stuffed baked potato into a hearty meal. Diced chicken can be mixed with a vegetable topping, and a barbecued beef-stuffed potato is also a popular recipe. Beef chili can be poured into the potato and then topped with sour cream, cheese, and onions. Stuffed baked potatoes with a Mexican flavor can be made by filling a potato with ground beef seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and then topped with cheese, and salsa.