TL;DR: In this post, I create a recipe based on the contents of my fridge. Zero planning ahead or extra shopping allowed.

Recipe: We created not just ordinary potato skins, but asian flavored potato skins, sauces, and BACON JAM made only from ingredients found laying around the kitchen.

East Coast

Have you ever had one of those days when it is too hot/too cold/too windy/too rainy outside, and you are feeling too tired/too lazy/too grouchy to put on pants to go to the grocery store, but your stomach is growling and you need to eat so you order Seamless/GrubHub and the food takes forever to get here and after gobbling down all the food you think: “Wow did I just pay a whopping $35 for lunch and delivery?!” No judgement here, we have all been there at some point.

But those days can be avoided by “grocery shopping” from your own fridge. And that’s what I did today for this inspiration.

Research

Usually, people grocery shop to fit certain recipes. We need ingredients A, B, and C for recipe uno, and E, F, and G for recipe dos. But ingredients rarely come in the perfect serving for the recipe at hand, and inevitably there are some leftovers: a stalk of celery here, a half onion there, etc. I find it useful to have a fridge-clean-up day once in a while, to use up the leftover ingredients and minimize food waste.

I started by listed out the contents of my fridge. Rummaging through the drawers, I found potatoes that were supposed to be turned into a curry last week. I always keep a few onions on hand. And in the freezer, I found the rest of the bacon leftover from “Cliffside.”

Development

After creating a fairly complete list of the available ingredients and seasonings, I started drawing circles on my notes, linking ingredients that can work together.

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I had quite a few potatoes, and I wanted to use them up. A few dishes came to mind: Baked potato, mashed potato, aloo gobi, home-made fries…etc. Given that today is the NBA finals, and I wanted something game day worth to nibble on, I settled on stuffed potato skins. (#1 in notes)

After determining the dish, I set out to find sides and seasonings that could work for the dish I had chosen. I have a few Asian sauces, all of which can work with potato skins. Given the recent mainstream success of sriracha butter, I am excited to create other variations of Asian sauce + butter. Hoisin butter? Xo Sauce butter?

Bacon is another ingredient that works wonders with potato. I will use bacon, onion, and other flavoring agents to make a bacon jam as a topping. (#2 in notes)

A Quick Discourse on Asian Sauces:

The Asian sauce trifecta

Sriracha has been everywhere lately. Going from the humble aisle of the Asian supermarket to a top 3 flavor for Lay’s potato chips. What is Sriracha? Sriracha is a vinegar-based spicy sauce made with red chilies, garlic, salt, and sugar. Sriracha adds an addicting sweet burn, and is especially good in pho, on meat, or dressing up cooked vegetables.

What is Hoisin Sauce? Hoisin sauce is a rich, thick, and dark brown colored sauce that is popular in Southern Chinese cuisine. Despite the fact that “hoisin” means “seafood” in Cantonese, the sauce contains none. It is instead made of soy, sugar, salt, garlic, and other spices.

What is Xo Sauce? Made of dried scallop, dried shrimp, cured ham, garlic, ginger, and red chilies, Xo sauce is made of quality ingredients and carries a high price tag (a tiny jar was $10 dollars). The “Xo” name was chosen for its association with the luxury and prestige of cognac, although the sauce itself does not contain any. Xo sauce is often use in Hong Kong cuisine, and is perfect for dressing up bland starches such as noodles or…potatoes!

Draft

I will create three different potato skins, each flavored with a different sauce (Sriracha, Hoisin, Xo). The potato skins will be brushed with flavored butter. The inside of the potatoes will be mashed and mixed with the flavored butter, then “stuffed” back into the skins.

Bacon jam will be added for additional flavor. Since potatoes are relatively bland, we need all the flavor we can get. The bacon jam should be rich and almost gelatinous in texture, a little of it should go a long way.

Ok, on to the cooking itself.

Testing

Stuffed Potato Skins with Bacon Jam and Asian Butter Trio (name = work in progress)

The Potatoes

First, I wash the potatoes, pierce the skin a few times with a fork, and bake them in the oven at 400° degrees for 1 hour until tender. Feel free to set the potatoes right on the wire rack in the oven.

Pretty potatoes

Pretty potatoes

Bacon Jam

As the potatoes bake, I prep for the bacon butter. I had about 3/4 of a pound of bacon, which I chopped into small pieces the size of a pinky nail. Then, I fried the bacon pieces in a pot until the pieces became slightly brown on the edges. Remove the bacon from the pot, save the bacon fat.

Bacon pieces

Bacon pieces

Then, I diced an onion and minced 2 garlic cloves. I cooked the onion and garlic in the left over bacon fat until the onion became translucent.

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Then, add the bacon pieces back into the pot, and add 1/8 cup of sugar, 1/8 of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of honey, and 1 tbsp of brewed coffee. The coffee should add a nice smokey flavor to the bacon jam. (Note: Even though I thought I needed butter while planning, I actually did not use butter in this, the bacon fat was more than enough to cook the vegetables in.)

Simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes until the liquids are absorbed and the texture reaches a gummy consistency.

Heaven.

Bacon Heaven.

Back to the potatoes. By now, the potatoes should be ready. Remove them from the oven to cool, and cut them in half along the length. Gently scoop out the middle with a spoon and place in a bowl. Set aside the skins.

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Take the bowl of potato meat (?) and mash with a fork. Add in 2 tbsp of chopped scallions and continue to mash until smooth. This mashed potato mixture will serve as the “base” for us to add in the sauces.

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The Trio of Asian Sauce Butters

Sriracha Butter

Our Sriracha Butter: Add 1 Tbsp of salted butter to a bowl, and microwave for 20 seconds until melted but not burnt. Add 1/2 Tbsp of Sriracha sauce. Feel free to adjust the amount of Sriracha to taste, I like my food spicy so 1/2 Tbsp is perfect. Whisk together vigorously until evenly mixed.

Hoisin Butter

Our Hoisin Butter: Add 1 Tbsp of salted butter to a bowl, and microwave for 20 seconds until melted but not burnt. Add 1/2 Tbsp of Hoisin sauce. Hoisin sauce is pretty savory, so be careful not to add too much. Whisk together vigorously until evenly mixed.

Xo Butter

Our Xo Butter: Add 1 Tbsp of salted butter to a bowl, and microwave for 20 seconds until melted but not burnt. Add 1/2 Tbsp of Xo sauce. Whisk together vigorously until evenly mixed. Xo sauce contains little bits of seafood and ham, so this sauce will contain some solids.

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Execution

Using a pastry brush, brush the potato skins with the butter of your choice.

Then, separate the mash potato “base” into 3rds. Mix in the Asian sauce butters into the mashed potato base. There will be a Sriracha one, a Hoisin one, and an Xo one.

Using two spoons, fill each potato skin with the matching flavored mashed potato (i.e. Sriracha with Sriracha, Xo with Xo).

Add a small dollop of bacon jam on each stuffed potato skin.

Decorate with a sprig of Cilantro (optional).

 

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Debrief

East Coast – I enjoyed having lots of flavors to play with – my taste testers (roommates) each had a different favorite. Mine was the Hoisin. I’m also feeling super accomplished to have cleaned out some of the contents of my fridge. The potato served as a great backdrop for the flavorful sauces.

  • I wish I had a more precise squeeze bottle. The uneven circle dots on the plating are bothering me.
  • The “shopping from your fridge” thing only works if you cook regularly. It doesn’t work if all that’s in your fridge is 3 cans of Bud Light and ketchup.
  • It’s always good to keep some starches on hand (pasta, rice). They can easily be dressed up with flavorful sauces.
  • Still need a name – West Coast?

West Coast

  • The butters look really good! I like the bacon jam as well but I wish that it was more noticeable in the final dish; even taking out the sauces and letting the butter’s shine would be an option
  • Yes, this only works if you have some more variety in the fridge, but dire situations can push inventiveness, as above
  • Yes, the plating could use some work. Consistency among the sizes of the stuffing and areas of the potatoes; maybe keep the sauces in the dipping containers; each potato could actually serve as it’s own dish