I don’t think I need to tell you that sometimes the tastiest food is not the prettiest. Take a real close look at meat sauce, or shiny, oily cheese draped over tuna or a ground up olive paste and you’ll know why it may be tasty, but it’s not pretty. Meanwhile, I am wary of too-pretty food; perfectly smoothed fondant lids on cakes, making them look like rubber, overly glazed tartlets that look like they’re cellophaned.
And of course, all of this is just an elaboration explanation-slash-apology for the hideously sounding and looking sausage stuffed potatoes that were so good, I will happily eat them only in private if I must, as long as I get to have them again.
What also drew me to this dish is how budget-friendly it is — and really, I made every effort to make it more expensive, with futsy Whole Foods fresh chicken breakfast sausages, organic and locally grown potatoes because I wanted to prove to myself that good food doesn’t need to cost much.
It’s bad out there. A recession isn’t necessarily about losing your job, but worrying that you might, or that you’ll be less able to make ends meet, and I don’t know anyone being spared that anxiety right now. But I find it refreshing to realize that some of my favorite things to cook don’t weigh heavily on the wallet, even while tasting like a million bucks. So between all the cookies and party fluff coming up, I’m going to be ushering in a few more dishes with a Budget-Friendly tag, and going back and re-categorizing recipes that belong there. It’s overdue.
One year ago: Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet, September 2008, via a very nice reader who emailed, “Deb must make this.”
One look at my pictures and you’ll see that I didn’t exactly read the directions correctly as I scooped them out, TGIFriday’s potato skin-style (yum) and didn’t hollow them out whole. Details. Clearly, both ways work, but I do suspect that the way the original recipe suggests it, it would be more attractive than my “meat boats”.
2 large russet (baking) potatoes (preferably organic; 3/4 pound each, scrubbed
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon water, divided
3/4 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for coating potatoes
1/2 slice firm white sandwich bread
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 pound bulk breakfast sausage (1 cup) or 1/2 pound of breakfast sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
5 cups salad greens (2 ounces)(we used arugula, which paired with the dijon sauce was deliciously kicky)
Prick potatoes with a fork. Microwave, covered with a paper towel, on high power until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Cutting lengthwise, remove top fourth of each potato and scoop out centers (reserve for another use), leaving 1/2-inch-thick walls.
Whisk together mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon water, tomato paste, anchovy paste, and 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard.
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Cook onion in oil with a pinch of salt in a small heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, tear bread into small pieces, then soak in milk in a medium bowl until very soft. Mix in sausage, parsley, onion, and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise sauce with your hands.
Divide filling between potatoes, then coat skins lightly with oil. Bake in a 4-sided sheet pan until sausage is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
While potatoes bake, whisk 1 tablespoon mayonnaise sauce with lemon juice, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard and 1/2 teaspoon water, and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove potatoes from oven and turn on broiler. Spoon remaining mayonnaise sauce over filling and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat until charred in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
Toss greens with dressing and serve with potatoes.