As I mentioned in my previous post highlighting my Oven Baked Whole Chicken Recipe, I often buy and cook a whole chicken just so that I can use the leftovers. Today I am happy to share with you my favorite thing to do with leftover chicken. This is my secret recipe for the best potato skins ever!
Although I have been making these for like 20 years, they are originally inspired by a recipe from a restaurant we used to frequent when I was a kid, named Peppers. It was in Monrovia or Arcadia, CA. It is probably still there, but I wouldn’t be confident that they still make things like they used to. They might, but nevertheless, I live very far away from there, so I make my own potato skins now.
Since my love for these delicious treats began when I was under 10 years old, I have ordered potato skins at restaurants all over the place for many years. Pretty much every time I see them on a menu I order them in hopes that I can find somewhere to get that meal I remember loving so many years ago. Needless to say, I am chasing the dragon, and have never found anything even close. Thus, as I said, I am forced to just make them at home for myself.
Nothing is more disappointing to me than ordering potato skins somewhere in excited anticipation, just to receive slivers of overcooked skins with hardly any toppings or substance. Not to mention, they are usually way over priced. A few months back I ordered some at a local restaurant for the first time. They were like $12 and it was literally the skin of one small potato sliced into 6 crescents, with burnt skin, and maybe half a piece of bacon crumbled over it. Infuriating!
The Good Stuff
Luckily though, I can and do make my own wonderful and hearty potato skins. My skins aren’t these wimpy pathetic versions restaurants try to sell me. They are so good, they can be served as an appetizer, or as a meal in themselves.
What You Will Need:
- 4 Potatoes (not tiny, not giant…like a regular baked potato size)
- 4 strips of Bacon
- Leftover Chicken
- Cheddar Cheese
- 2 Green Onions (optional)
- Baking Sheet
I generally attack my leftover whole chicken beforehand and strip any meat left on it and put into a Rubbermaid container for potato skins and often times chicken tacos.
Then, because I don’t like to wait long for things, I generally cook my potatoes in the microwave for about 10 mins first. If you have the time and the patience to bake your potatoes in the oven, they really do seem to come out better that way. You just have to plan ahead about an hour instead of ten minutes.
Once your potatoes are cooked you will want to let them cool a bit before attempting to move on to the next steps. You can go ahead and cut them in half at this point to help them cool faster, but you will probably want to use an oven mitt.
Make sure you cut them lengthwise in the center of the potato. You want to end up with as symmetrical and evenly sized halves as you can.
While your potatoes bake, or while they are cooling, you can go ahead and cook your bacon. Pull your bacon out of the frying pan before they get too crispy, as they will continue to cook once you assemble and reheat your skins.
Pat dry the excess grease from the bacon with a paper towel. Once the bacon is cooled enough to touch, cut it up into little pieces, or crumble it by hand. You can also cut it up before you cook it. I change my mind on which way I like to do it every other time I cook bacon for a recipe where I need small pieces of bacon. It works either way, so it is up to you which way you prefer.
You will want to shred 1-1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese. I usually just shred a bunch of it, and if I have too much I put in a container in the fridge and save it for taco night.
Green Onions (Optional)
These were not in the original recipe from my childhood restaurant, but I have added them over the years because I love them. It adds color and a nice flavor to the skins. So, feel free to just dice up a couple green onions or chives.
Putting it all together
Now that your potatoes are cooled down enough to touch, you can cut them in half if you haven’t already. Again, for presentation and so that friends and family members don’t have to fight over bigger and smaller portions, make sure you try to cut them as evenly as possibly down the center lengthwise.
Then you want to scoop out some of the potato from the center of each half. You will want to leave about 1/4 inch of potato around the inside of the skin. I know they are called “potato skins”, but you really want some potato in your skin or they will be like the lame burnt skins restaurants serve. I use a regular metal spoon to scoop out the center of the potato. If you didn’t cook your potatoes long enough to begin with this step can be difficult.
If the potato isn’t coming out easily then you should cook them longer. Pop them in the microwave for a couple more minutes until they are cooked.
Fill ’em up
Now you should have your 8 potato halves scooped out and ready to go. Now is the easy part.
Place your skins on a foil covered baking sheet, for easy clean up later. I don’t always do this, but you may want to rub oil over the skin of the potato to help them crisp up a little in the oven, and just to make sure they don’t stick…just in case.
Now you take your leftover chicken and kind of shred it up as you put it into the potato if you haven’t already. If your chicken is bland at all you can add salt and pepper as necessary to the chicken or to the inside of potato.
Fill the each potato cavity with chicken, then top each one with a good helping of the shredded cheese, add some bacon crumbles, and sprinkle on the green onions. You can push the crumbles and green onions into the cheese a little so they don’t fall off.
See how easy that is?! Now you are ready to heat them up and melt that cheese.
Heat up your skins
Put the baking sheet of potato skins into your oven preheated to 400 degrees. It should only take about 10-15 minutes to heat them up. You want the cheese to melt and the skins to get a little crispy around the edges. Just keep an eye on them so you don’t over cook the cheese.
Serve with a side of sour cream and salsa! You can also add guacamole if you have some.
Spicing it up
As a kid, and even now I go with the basics on this dish…Tabasco all the way!
But I think if you added some diced jalapenos (or even habaneros) to the chicken while assembling that could add a really nice spice to the recipe. Actually, I will try that next time I make them. I will only do half of the batch that way, so the wimpy people in my house don’t get burned. I’m nice like that…
I hope you now know what to do with your leftover chicken. Enjoy the best potato skins ever! If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below, and I will get back to asap!