As the weather starts getting a bit chillier, and as my wardrobe starts filling out with sweaters and boots, I grow much more inclined to make heartier foods instead of the salads and veggie meals I’ve been into for the past few months. After all, fall is a season for soups, and chilis, and pot pies….not breezy summer food like tacos!
This week’s edition of Taco Tuesday is a reflection of the season. We’re past the time of cherry salsas, or roasted pepper sauces. Today, my friends, is a day for some super hearty Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes. Baked potatoes are a great dinner option- baking them is very hands off, they’re substantial enough to be a meal, and they’re endlessly customizable to meet everyone’s dietary needs.
Baking potatoes is pretty straight forward, but I’ll walk you through my method for achieving perfectly tender potatoes. Then I make a simple, spicy taco meat mixture (no premade taco seasoning here!) and top with all the toppings you love on tacos. The potatoes bake for an hour, but the meat and sides come together in less than 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time to throw in a load of laundry, or catch up on the last episode of Parks and Rec (I can’t stop binge watching the new season on Netflix) or walk the dog. Then it’s easy to chop up your potato, load it up, and enjoy a warmer, more fall appropriate version of the tacos we’ve loved all summer long.
Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes
– 4 Idaho white potatoes
– olive oil
– kosher salt
– 1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken, if you’re so inclined)
– 1/4 cup onion, chopped
– 1 clove garlic, chopped
– 2 tbsp. chili powder
– 1 tsp cumin
– a dash of cayenne or smoke chipotle powder, or a spoonful of sriracha- really, whatever meets your preferred level of spiciness!
– 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
– cheese, green or red onions, cilantro, sour cream, avocados, or other taco toppings
Bake your potatoes: Heat the over to 425. Wash each potato, then pierce several times with a fork (this will allow steam to escape the potato skin, and is absolutely necessary when cooking whole potatoes). Either spray or drizzle oil on potato skin, then liberally sprinkle with kosher salt. Wrap each potato in foil and bake for at least an hour. I sometimes leave them in for an hour and a half or a bit longer, only because I get distracted; the foil keeps them from burning. They’re done when a fork can easily pierce the skin and flesh, and they give a bit when squeezed lightly.
Make taco meat: Cook the meat over medium heat until browned, or about five to seven minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for another two or so minutes, until they start to become translucent. Stir in the spices and cook for a minute before adding the tomato sauce. Once the tomato sauce is heated through and thickens (about two more minutes) the mixture is ready.
Assemble the potatoes: Cut each potato length wise. If you want a picturesque potato, you an push the ends of the potato towards the center, and the potato will should spread open. If you want maximum surface area for taco coverage, just slice the potato in half and flatten a bit with a fork. Either way, cover the potato in the taco mixture and toppings, and enjoy a heart tex mex dinner!