October 26, 2011

Pesto Baked Potatoes with Chicken

This is my last post, and then I'm all caught up. Hooray!

Kayotic Kitchen is a website that I normally check in on with regularity, ever since it was recommended a few years ago by Pioneer Woman. Kay's food and photos are drool-worthy, so it's one of my favorite places to stalk recipes. Since life got really busy for us recently, I fell away from looking at some of my favorite food websites...Kayotic Kitchen being one of them. I almost forgot about the site entirely! One day last week, I was poking around on either Foodgawker or Pinterest (maybe both) and I came across this recipe for twice baked potatoes. When I saw the source was Kayotic Kitchen I knew I had to try these spuds STAT. I'm so glad I did, because it was a great adaptable recipe, and it reminded me of one of my favorite foodie sites.

Pesto Baked Potatoes with Chicken
Adapted From: the Kayotic Kitchen website

5 potatoes (8 oz each-1 potato per person)
kosher salt
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken (I used some leftover thigh meat)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 jar of pesto
1/2 cup of any combination of your favorite nuts, crushed (i.e. walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.)
pepper and salt to taste
Lemon juice
Parmesan cheese, grated

Place whole nuts in a zip-top bag and seal. Crush nuts into small pieces with a rolling pin or heavy object. Set aside.

Preheat oven for 400 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper.

Scrub your potatoes clean and prick a few times with a fork. Dry potatoes thoroughly with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Brush oil onto each potato and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. When potatoes are oiled and salted, place onto the baking sheet. Roast the potatoes on the bottom rack of the oven for 1 hour.

While the potatoes are baking, saute onions (or shallot) in a skillet with a little bit of oil (maybe 1 tablespoon) over medium heat. When onions are soft, add garlic and chopped chicken and cook for an additional minute or two. Add half and half and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and let the liquid thicken and reduce a little. Add lemon juice to taste and remove from the heat. Set aside.

When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven. Using tongs, transfer the potatoes to a cutting board and cut each potato in half. Scoop out the insides of the halved potatoes and place in a large bowl. Remember to leave a thin layer of potato in each "shell". Place the shell(s) back onto the baking sheet. Repeat with all the potato halves.

In the bowl of potato filling, add the jar of pesto, additional salt and pepper to taste, crushed nuts, and chicken/cream mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined.

Take each potato "shell" and spoon heaping amount of filling into it. Top with some grated Parmesan cheese and return the filled shell to the baking sheet. Repeat with the additional shells and filling. Return the prepared potatoes to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

The Result:
These were awesome! Is it weird that it is 10:30 in the morning right now and I just ate a leftover potato half???? No, I didn't think so either. I mean, they were THAT good!!!!

NOTE: The original recipe did not use chicken or chicken broth. Instead, it was sans chicken and used vegetable stock. Kay had these potatoes as a side item, but I added the chicken to bulk 'em up for a main dish. Also, I had leftover chicken I wanted to use up. You could omit the chicken and sub in the veggie broth to keep this recipe vegetarian or as a little bit lighter side dish.

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