Midwestern Tacos or Taco Topped Baked Potatoes are a major dinner hit around here. You can find instructions on how to make the best baked potato here.
You know those questions that go something: “Which three foods would you take with you to a deserted island to eat for the rest of your life?” My rote answer to that is always “Potatoes, Onions and Cheese” If they let me choose four, I add “bacon”. If they let me choose five, I add “chocolate”. I am a woman of priorities, you see… And potatoes, well, they’re high on that priority list. Blame it on ancestry, carb-addiction, frugality, or whatever, the fact remains that this gal needs potatoes to survive.
When I was a kid, one of my favourite meals that my mom made was a baked potato bar. My little heart skipped with joy every time I came home to the earthy smell of potatoes baking in the oven. Mom always pulled out all the goodies for topping the baked spuds. Little did I know at the time what a genius move that was to clean out the refrigerator. Odds and ends of leftover cooked meats, small amounts of four different kinds of cheese and cooked vegetables, sour cream, ranch dressing, sliced pepperoni, and whatever else we had on hand. To me, it was -quite simply- the best thing I could possibly imagine.
These Midwestern Tacos (in actuality baked potatoes with taco toppings) are in the grand tradition of my mom’s baked potato bars. I lay out all of our leftover taco toppings (around here that’s usually refried beans, chorizo/carnitas/shredded beef or chicken, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and grated cheese) and let everyone customize their spuds to their hearts’ content.
The key here, and it really is key, is to get some good potatoes and bake them right. Thank you, Queen Obvious. What I mean is this; while almost any not-rotten potato is a good potato, there is a better potato than other potatoes to use for baked potatoes. Ahem.
I have a handy-dandy tutorial on how to make the best baked potato for you, complete with a “how to video” by my son.
I like mega, mondo, gigantic Russets for my baked potatoes, because I feel a flutter of happiness looking at massive potatoes on my plate, but if you’re the more delicate type, or you can only find bonnie wee Russet potatoes, by all means… bake them! Again? THEY’RE POTATOES.
As for the toppings I specify in the recipe, feel free to swap things in or out for them. The idea is sound and can tolerate creativity based on likes, dislikes, and what is available. Oh, and hey. I bet it goes without saying, but just imagine how popular THIS will be if you serve it at your Super Bowl shindigs. It fits with my ultimate entertaining rule: “Make it customizable and everyone will be happy.” Well, unless they don’t eat potatoes. But if they don’t eat potatoes, shoot. I don’t know. Hand ’em a fistful of nuts. ‘Cause that’s what they are.
…And I say that out of love.
Midwestern Tacos | Taco Topped Baked Potatoes
For the Potatoes:
- Desired number of large Russet potatoes *See Notes, scrubbed under running water and air dried.
- olive oil
- coarse salt either sea or kosher
- Fully cooked chorizo shredded pork, chicken or beef
- refried beans
- shredded cheese Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese are both good choices.
- salsa or taco sauce
- chopped sweet onions
- sour cream
- fresh cilantro or lettuce
To Bake the Potatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Use a fork to jab the potatoes about 6 to 8 times all over them.
- Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl, drizzle olive oil over them and use your hands to smear the oil over the potatoes to completely coat them. Sprinkle the potato skins with the coarse salt and lay them directly on the wire racks in the oven. Bake for 30-50 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with a fork, butterknife or cake tester. Because everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a large potato, begin testing around the 30 minute mark and go from there. My potatoes usually take closer to an hour.
- Wearing oven mitts, transfer the finished potatoes to a baking dish or rack.
To Serve the Potatoes, Midwestern Taco Style:
- Using a fork, repeatedly jab the potato about 3/4- to 1-inch deep in a line from end to end, overlapping a little with each poke. Turn the fork perpendicular to that line in the center and jab once at the same depth. If the potatoes are still screaming hot, put the oven mitts back on for the next step.
- Hold both ends of the potatoes and squeeze gently while pressing down slightly This will make the potato BURST open at the top and make the fluffy insides craggy so that toppings can settle into the nooks and crannies or butter can melt in or whatever you put on top will soak in. This is a very good thing.
- Top with desired taco toppings, starting with meats/beans/cheese and moving up through salsa, onions, ending with guacamole and sour cream, if desired. Serve immediately. Store leftover potatoes in a bowl in the refrigerator, uncovered.
Make more potatoes than you think you'll need! Leftover potatoes are great for making potato soup, potato salad, potato skins and more. Besides, a leftover potato all on its own makes a nutritious and hearty snack!