Saturday, October 31, 2015
French Onion Baked Potato - This Spud's Not a Dud
French Onion Baked Potato. It's not pretty, being somewhat bland in color, but I literally moaned when I bit into it. It's not low fat - but calorie wise as a main course it was about 600 calories. With a lunch and breakfast that was only 500 total - a fruit smoothie and a salad with Gardein "chicken strips" and a couple of pieces of Halloween candy (official taste testing), the days calories are still in the "lose weight" range - even with the splurge tasting meal item and a small dinner salad.
But I made the decision to give up dairy and this was my last blow out cheesy meal. A few years ago, I had a bad fall on ice, and tore my miniscus. Much of it was removed as it was not repairable. I've developed osteoarthritis, just in that knee (other knee has NO arthritis). In reading on triggers for that, dairy seems to be the #1 culprit. I eat little meat, perhaps once or twice a week, if that, but I eat a TON of dairy. So let's see if this helps. I'm also going to cut back on the OJ and sugar, substituting more berries and whole fruit.
But trust me on this recipe - this one is worth the time it takes to put it together.
You will need (per potato)
1 large potato
1 sweet onion
a bay leaf
salt and pepper
beef broth (I used some leftover homemade beef stock in which had earlier cooked a garlic studded roast beast, but canned will work)
extra virgin olive oil
To Start: Rub your scrubbed and clean potato with olive oil. I use one that is made of olives that taste like butter, from Artesano's in Indianapolis.
After your potato is oiled, poke a few holes in it so it doesn't blow up in your oven, resulting in potato residue on your clothing that will likely get you secondary screening by TSA. Then place directly on the rack of a 400 degree F. oven and set the timer for 60 minutes.
Next, get one sweet onion, fairly large but not a Jabba the Hut sized one, and chop it into fairly thin slivers or pieces. .
SNIFF. (no it's not the onion - I was thinking about the last Bears game).
The onions, when chopped, will look to be almost the same mass as the potato, but they cook down quite a bit.
Put the onions in a pan with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt (which help caramelize it) and cook on low/medium heat. Stir every few minutes, for at least 30 minutes. The onions should be VERY soft and caramelized, starting to turn golden. In the last five minutes raise the heat to medium, and cook until very light golden brown, stirring constantly, if needed. You want soft, not crunchy onions, so watch they don't burn, adding a teaspoon more olive oil as needed.
Remove the onions, putting them in a little saucepan and keep warm. Do not rinse fry pan. Remove it from heat, let cool a minute and then put in a healthy splash of Malbec wine (if you don't have a dry red wine, a splash of Chardonnay and Vermouth would work.)
With the wine in the pan, stir up the little bits of onion left with a spatula. Return to low heat and add 1/3 to 1/2 cup beef broth. Add a heaping half teaspoon of Summer Savory (if you can't find, use thyme), a bay leaf, 1/4 heaping teaspoon fresh ground pepper and a dash of salt. Simmer on low to medium low until reduced to 1/4 cup of liquid (by the time the potato is done, it should be ready).
While this simmers, shred just shy of a half cup of Gruyere cheese and also cut 4 thin slices (about an inch by 4 inches) of cheese for the top of the potato. Add the shredded cheese to the onion mixture. Reserve the strips. I used a really good quality Swiss Gruyere.
When the timer goes off on your potato, remove potato from oven and turn oven to broil, positioning the top rack two rungs down. Cut off a thin wedge off the top of the potato and then scoop the potato flesh out of the potato as well as the little bit of flesh from the top piece, which you won't need. Mix the potato flesh with the broth over low heat (bay leaf removed and any extra broth removed with a spoon if you think after simmering it's more than 1/4 cup). Add onion mixture to wine infused broth and potato mixture. Mix with a spoon until combined and creamy with the cheese starting to melt. You can add additional pepper to taste but with the broth and cheese you don't need any salt. Spoon the mixture back into the potato carefully. It will be more than the potato will hold, so you end up with a nice little Mt. Rainier of potato goodness on the top.
That potato summit then will be conquered by the strips of cheese which you will lay across the top of the potato in a small baking dish. Place the dish in the oven under the broiler and broil the potato until the cheese is melted and starting to brown (watch carefully, better light gold than burnt). Top with a sprig of fresh thyme and serve with a green salad.
Try not to make those little noises when you eat it. It makes the neighbors wonder.