Twice-Baked Potatoes Inspired by the Neelys

I was home sick from work this week with a nasty virus and nothing but the television to keep me company. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to browse daytime programming, and it’s just as bad as I remember. The only channel I could bear for more than thirty seconds was the Food Network. I dozed off to the soothing sounds of the Barefoot Contessa preparing a silky chocolate cake, and woke in the midst of a fever flash to the sounds of a Southern couple fussing over grilled Cornish hens and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. What was this? Down Home with the Neelys? I’d never heard of it before but I was instantly hypnotized. “Ohh, honey. I just loooove me some lobster,” cooed Gina, her voice dripping with sugar. “I know, baby,” Patrick drawled back. “Now check this out, y’all…” as he proceeded to brush a sticky orange glaze over the smoking hens. Lordy.

I felt like I was watching something private and slightly naughty. Maybe it’s the fever working, but those southern accents suddenly seemed the sexiest things I’d ever heard. You can see the Neelys magnetic connection when they move around each other playfully on camera. “That’s my man!” Gina hollers when Patrick successfully flips a perfectly golden hash brown patty in one piece. “Gimme some,” he responds, and pulls her in for a kiss. You have to think these two are getting it on like crazy off-screen. With episode names like “If Pat’s a Good Boy” and “Lovin’ in the Oven,” they’re not exactly dispelling that notion. The Neelys’ food is just as tantalizing as they are: tasty, decadent southern dishes that are homespun and fun. Blue cheese mashed potatoes, “Get Yo’ Man” Chicken, and strawberry pie for example. Gina and Pat are co-owners of the successful four-location Neely’s BBQ in Memphis and Nashville, and they give away a few family secrets on the show and in their new cookbook, Down Home With the Neelys. I had to wonder… do I have any recipes that would make the Neelys swoon? I’m no BBQ master, but I do make a mean twice-baked potato that would stand up nicely to the Neelys’ ribs. Check it out, y’all!

Twice Baked Potatoes 2 large baking potatoes 3 tbl butter 1/3 cup milk 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar 1/4 cup shredded gruyere 3 tbl goat cheese Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 4 tbl panko breadcrumbs 3 tbl grated parmesan Paprika

*This recipe is very flexible and you can add in other ingredients to your liking, such as different cheeses, bacon, ham, or veggies.

Bake the potatoes in a 400˚ oven for 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven, slice potatoes lengthwise, and scoop out cooked potato into a medium bowl, taking care to preserve the potato skins intact. Add butter, milk, cheddar, goat cheese, gruyere, salt, and pepper (and anything else you’re adding in) and mix well with a potato masher or fork. When blended, scoop mixture back into the potato skins, pressing it in gently with a spoon. Sprinkle the tops with breadcrumbs, paprika, and parmesan. Return to oven on a baking tray for 10-15 minutes more, or until golden and lightly crisped on top. Serves 2-4.

[Photo/ / CC BY-SA 2.0]

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