Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
Twice-baked potatoes are already a favorite party appetizer, but topping them with steak takes them to the next level. This version gets a Tex-Mex twist by adding pico de gallo (fresh Mexican salsa), shredded cheese and chives. It's hearty enough to make a meal out of by having a couple potatoes with a simple salad on the side.
The potatoes are easy to prepare, but do take a bit of time to bake, during which you can take care of other things. If you’re having a party, you can even do most of the cooking and assembly ahead of time, then finish warming the potatoes in the oven just before your guests arrive. The simple steak topping takes just a few minutes to cook and adds a substantial final flourish. Heap it abundantly on top of the potatoes.
With this meaty topping and rich filling, the potatoes seemed like they could stand up to a moderately big red, so I tried two: a Spanish Garnacha and a Chilean Carmenère.
The Garnacha had flavors of sweet, smoked cherries and vanilla, along with a pleasant acidity that helped balance out the food. However, the fruit had a confectionery note that wasn’t ideal with this dish.
The Carmenère offered deeper black cherry, plum, pepper and herbal notes. The weightier of the two wines, it had more prominent tannins. Initially, I thought this might be a problem, but the tannins grew increasingly plush as the wine got air. Smoky notes in the wine matched the light char on the steak, while its herbal character worked well with the pico de gallo and, in particular, any bites containing guacamole. Over the course of the meal, the Carmenère emerged as the clear favorite.
Pair with a moderately tannic red such as De Martino Carmenère Maipo Valley Legado Reserva 2016 (87 points, $20) from Chile.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Food Costs: $18
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Rub the potatoes with a little cooking oil and sprinkle with salt, then set on a baking pan or baking dish. Place them in the oven and cook for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are completely cooked through and a knife inserted into the middle encounters no resistance. Remove them from the oven.
2 . Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out about 2/3 to 3/4 of the insides of each potato into a bowl, making sure to leave enough of the potato intact on the bottom so that it is able to hold its form. Line up the potato shells on a baking sheet and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F.
4. Add the tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper to the bowl of potato flesh and mash up well. Once it has cooled down a bit, mix in the shredded cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup of the pico de gallo and combine well. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Evenly distribute the mixture back into the potato shells. Place them back in the oven and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are completely warmed through.
5. While the potatoes are in the oven, heat a small amount of oil in a sauté pan on medium-high. Add the steak cubes to the pan and cook until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and 1/2 cup of the pico de gallo to the pan, stir to combine and cook for another minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
6. Once the potatoes are warmed through, arrange them on a platter. Top each with some of the steak mixture and garnish with the chives and additional shredded cheese. Serve with extra pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole, if desired, on the side. Makes 4 lunch-sized servings or 8 appetizer portions.