sausage-stuffed potatoes + a green salad

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.

stabbing the potatoes

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.

dijon-mayo topping

One year ago: Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Sausage-Stuffed Potatoes
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”.

Serves 2

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.

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98 comments on sausage-stuffed potatoes + a green salad

  1. It’s the mayonnaise sauce that’s doin’ it for me — particularly if I use homemade mayonnaise from good oils (rather than the store-bought mayo that’s made from rancid and deodorized soybean and canola oils).

    I’m going to try this tonight!


  2. Sausage and Potatoes! Count me IN. Last night for dinner I went with the potatoes + green salad = meal equation but I made a gratin and I think this would have been better. Hm. Potatoes + green salad for dinner again!

  3. I also love stuffed baked potatoes. I made a clam chowder version for my last book that I think is fantastic (so humble!). I was recently at Wilfred’s the restaurant in Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel, and they had a very pretty way of stuffing their baked potatoes. Chef Jeff, cut both of the long ends from the potato so that it could stand up and hollowed out the top before scooping the filling back in. Super pretty.

    You can see a bad picture of it on my blog (I took it on my iphone so it’s not fab):

  4. eloise

    I wouldn’t even want to scoop those potatoes out all the way…Otherwise they’re just a shell. Isn’t the point to have some potato with your sausage mixture?

  5. Phoo-d

    What’s not to love about meat boats?! I’m pretty much a sucker for anything involving chicken sausage – and these look terrific! Do you think you could do a breakfast riff with some egg mixed in too?

  6. Layoffs at my place today. I might need some of these.
    I’m a little squeamish around mayo, so I might sub greek yogurt.

    Thanks for focusing on budget recipes, useful all the time, not just in a recession.

  7. CKOne

    I think that “Bulk Sausage” refers to the sausage meat out of the casing, which is why the recipe doesn’t specify what to do with the sausage. It is not as common here in NYC grocery stores, but in the “real world” you can often find bulk sausage right next to the links.

  8. Lexa

    Looks great . I made something very similar and just as budget friendly last week. I used deliata squash. Cut them lenghtwise and cleaned out the seeds and pulp. Cooked for 45 minutes. Then took them out and filled with sausage-cornbread-egg mixture. Cooked for 15 minues more. Delish! Serious comfort food and can be a side or main dish.

  9. margaret

    This looks incredibly delish–doing this with little spuds as an appetizer would be irresistible, I think. Lexa’s delicata squash version sounds wonderful too!

  10. Amy

    Thank you so much for publishing this recipe and for your comment about the psychological effects of the recession, which my husband and I are feeling today after having to cancel a long-anticipated trip. This is not only budget-friendly, but the best kind of comfort food. I can’t wait to try a vegetarian version of this :)

  11. MBT

    I love potatoes. I love sausage more than I love potatoes. The two together, especially one stuffed inside the other = amazing. I might have to request this instead of twice baked potatoes for xmas dinner. Yum.

  12. sigh. this is what i call winter food. i wish i had been around to taste-test this…
    (my husband wouldn’t touch this, so i will have to wait until i am alone for a few days to make this, or a version of it…)

  13. deb

    CKOne — Aaah! I was wondering if perhaps that’s what it meant but wasn’t sure. I suspect Google could have told me but was clearly being lazy. I’ll update the recipe to clarify. Thanks.

  14. Dancer who eats

    Wonderful! This is what I need. My college roommate is having a destination wedding and I need to work, work, work and save, save, save.

  15. Cris

    Budget friendly? We made the feta salsa for a party and then dumped the leftovers (can you believe there were leftovers? It was so good!) on homemade pizza dough for dinner the next night. Thank you – so yummy!

  16. Susan

    I love stuffed potatoes. That filling sounds similar to a stuffed mushroom recipe I have. What a great idea to fill a potato with it! These do make a budget friendly main course. Thanks, Deb.

  17. courtney

    Hmm, I wonder how this would work with new potatoes. We are going to brunch pot luck next weeked, and I want to do something different. I bet it would be somewhat of a pain in the butt, but yummy.

  18. I guess you must receive hundreds of comments to advise you one recipe or another… But I made the chocolate – nutella tart last week, and every one at the birthday party RAVED about it. One of the girl kept saying “I’m a real chocolate addict, and this, this is so delicious”. So I thought you (and Alex!) might like it too. Plus, it’s another UNSHRINKABLE pie shell recipe! It’s the latest post on my blog.

  19. The white death cometh to my region tomorrow (1 inch of snow – “doom! gloom! details at 11!” speaketh the meteorologist) … potato boats to the rescue! Next to soup (of course), this is the kind of meal you want when you’re chilled to the bone (whether from weather or the latest financial statement). I’m in the publishing industry, and our ceo is constantly – constantly – threatening layoffs. The threats come true about once per quarter; it’s just a matter of which office and which dept gets hit the hardest.

  20. You know, your eggs poached in marinara sauce with sauteed spinach has become a budget-friendly weeknight staple for us. I think that this dish is headed in the same direction. This is also one more reason for me to break down and buy a microwave: faster freaking potatoes!!

  21. emily

    this looks delicious. i’m actually a vegetarian….but it still looks delicious!
    i know this is relatively off topic of this recipe, but with christmas next week, i always bring a dessert to my family’s house. are there any favorite dessert recipes out there (i have to ex out pumpkin recipes, and cookies…unfortunately).

  22. Dear Deb,
    (can I call you Deb?)
    I went to Whole Foods and bought organic chicken liver for $2.99 per pound, or $2.49 for free-range. I had an amazing and simple recipes for it. It turned out great! With cinnamon and apples, and pumpkin ravioli… Anyone can eat better for less. If you’re interested, I posted about it here:
    But of course, there are people out there who will say “Yuck” to chicken liver. They don’t know what they are missing…

  23. I bought all the ingredients to make this dish after I got that issue of Gourmet and didn’t ever end up actually preparing it! Nobody can get enough budget friendly recipes these days.

  24. laurie

    We ate bakers with turkey meatballs tonight. Thanks for the idea of making the boats. Since we have starving teenagers, I have to make a lot of food. I rounded out the meal with fresh pineapple, steamed baby peas, salad, and homemade biscuits. Still way less expensive than going out to a restaurant.

  25. This looks so much more delicious than you make out! And so easy. Holiday cooking is taking over my life – so much that I can’t even think what to make for dinner during the weeks leading up. This is perfect.

  26. crispyK

    I adore baked potatoes , they are so delicious and when they are stuffed they are even better! To be honest I prefer them to french fries or smashed potatoes. Correct me if I’m wrong but arugula is what the English call rocket and the Italians rucola. Right? (Or not…)

  27. Mona

    OMG, this looks amazingly simple and good! I like potato skins, myself, more room for crispy-ness. I think I would have done it your way also, instead of the way the original recipe tells me to. Who doesn’t love more surface area for browning and sauce??!??

  28. These look delicious. You had me until I saw there was mayo in the sauce, as my husband won’t come near the stuff…I am going to have to improvise in order to make these…who doesn’t love sausage and potatoes?

  29. Thanks for promising to go back and put recipes into a budget-minded category. I would love to look at those. Also- these potatoes look amazing! Perhaps Whole Foods might actually have sausage I can eat . . .

  30. Nicole M

    So for three days it been freezing cold here (high of 8 yesterday!) and this is looking so good right now. Next time I brave the cold I’m picking up some potatoes. I bet it tastes extra good when you’re wrapped up in a blanket!

  31. brooklynite

    my go-to budget recipe is actually a smitten kitchen one – the lentils with stewed tomatoes – i really pare it down and sometimes don’t even add the carrots and potatoes when time really is a factor and throw in some spinach instead – it’s my favorite comfort food as of late and so cheap (lentils, canned tomatoes – doesn’t get any cheaper) and that paired with some red wine (3 dollar TJ wine usually does the trick!) is my ultimate feel-good be-at-home weekday meal

  32. So my husband just walked in when I opened this, and I said, “How about sausage stuffed potatoes for dinner?” And before I even reached the end of my question, he was drooling and muttering something like “dinner, what about lunch? what about right now?” So although I don’t have anchovy paste, I now have yet another reason to procrastinate from my work so that I can satisfy his (and my) meat/mayo/carb desires. Thank you!

  33. Christine

    Looks good! And yes–budget friendly indeed. I’m a big fan of any dishes that can be served as a side, or made more substantial as a main course.
    Using mayo as a binding or sauce ingredient is not my cup of tea, but I’m thinking a cayenne and cumin sour cream or a dollop of sauerkraut on top would be a tasty alternative!

  34. These look awesome. You can do something similar with canned tuna – which, yes, isn’t as photogenic as a lot of other kitchen feats, which is why I didn’t post it yet – but I had those twice-baked tuna stuffed potatoes for three meals in a row. And they were also very inexpensive.
    Like a healthy, Irish tuna melt!

  35. SmallB

    I’ve had something similar to this. The sausage stuffing was put in the center of an acorn squash. Yummy!! This sausage stuffing sounds fabulous; will be giving it a try while the kids are home from college!

  36. I made these for dinner last night using pork sausage with sage from Whole Foods. A perfect weeknight dinner for a cold December–cheap, easy, and delicious. My only substitution was of necessity; I had no anchovy paste, so I added a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Thanks!

  37. This was a super giant hit with the family. They didn’t even bitch about having to eat salad with it. I had a bunch of small potatoes so I just baked them all together in the oven while I was busy elsewhere. I too simply halved them instead of cutting off the top edge, Deb. What’s the dif? Easier, too, I think. Also because I was sort-of tripling the recipe, I got loosy-goosy with adjusting the quantities. I think it would be difficult to screw this up. This strikes me as the kind of recipe you could make and take to your friend’s ironic mid-century supper club. Where everyone else’s scary 1950’s food would be shockingly inedible, grateful partygoers would gobble these down!

  38. Jane


    It was one year ago today that I first discovered your blog and subscribed to it. I have made the espresso shortbread cookies several times since then, and just finished a batch yesterday, as a matter of fact.

    Thank you for a year of wonderful recipes, baking and cooking tips, and your grand sense of humor!

    P.S. Actually, yours was the first food blog I ever read–it set the bar pretty high as I endeavor to record my own culinary adventures in mine!

  39. Kayleigh

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious! This is the first time I’ve commented on this site but I’ve been reading the site for a while now. The mustard sauce had a little bit of a kick and was absolutely yummy on the arugula and baby spinach I used. I would love it if you tagged some budget friendly recipes! It’s always good to know of some cheap but delicious recipes!

  40. Jennifer

    Made it for dinner last night and it was delicious! I dressed the arugula with some leftover vinaigrette and served the extra sauce at the table for the potatoes. Love the budget friendly recipes, bring them on!

  41. I’m perusing blogs to find some inspiration for my upcoming New Year’s Day brunch. I agree, this is not the most beautiful dish, but I can just imagine how good and satisfying this tastes! And with a crowd joining us January 1st, cost is always a consideration. Thanks, Deb!

  42. Brittany

    I made these into an appetizer on new year’s by halving red skinned potatoes and doubling the recipe (about 2 tablespoons per half) and they were delicious! Thanks!

  43. JenS

    This was amazing! I made it without the anchovy paste and we didn’t miss it! I will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  44. LeilaniE

    oh dear god, it just started snowing here (after a week of spring rain storms, boo), and this looks absolutely perfect.

  45. Allison

    I made this last night but with a sweet potat, chorizo and a cilantro mayo. Very yummy! Thanks for the idea, you can do so much with it :)

  46. Tracy

    Made these for dinner last night with a few changes and they turned out great! I didn’t use the anchovy paste, and I didn’t want to waste the potato fillings. So instead of bread, I just mixed the sausage, onions, parsley and sauce with the potato innards. It made for a more “stuffed” potato (more like overflowing!) but it was truly delicious and filled both me and my hollow leg boyfriend right up!

  47. Allyson

    Made a modified version last night for dinner. Yum! Except they were so filling that my boyfriend and I fell asleep on the couch. We were out cold! They are instant insomnia cures I’ve decided :)

  48. Kara

    Hi, Deb- I made these last year shortly after you posted the recipe and loved them! I am thinking about making them for a big family dinner- about 8 adults and 2 kids. Do you think I need to adjust the cooking time at all if they all bake together in the oven? Just don’t want anyone digging in to a semi-raw sausage center:-) Thanks!

  49. Gaby

    My husband and I just finished eating these about half an hour ago… Wow, seriously awesome meal! We used lamb sausages (I think they’d normally be a dinner sausage – they were medium thickness but with ‘fancy’ ingredients and clear casing). I also bought fancy beef sausages and hope to re-make this meal within the next week. The sauces were delicious and they’ll probably go even better with the beef :)

    Yum – thank you!

  50. Francesca

    What an amazing recipe! My boyfriend & I just made it, and the food was gone in seconds – our adaptations were to use 4 small potatoes instead of 2 big ones, no anchovy paste, and about 2/3rds as much mustard (the boyfriend is not a huge mustard fan). I also added a little bit of German mayonnaise to the sauce, which is kind of like British salad cream. It’s sweeter, creamier, and just tastier than normal mayo. =) Thank you!

  51. ashley

    My husband and I made these tonight with chorizo instead of breakfast sausage and holystuffedpotatoesbatman! They were INCREDIBLE!

  52. Rachel

    Tripled the recipe and made it for myself and five girlfriends last night — DELICIOUS! Slightly more labor- and time-intensive than I had expected thanks to my lack of a microwave and because I had to make my own Dijon mustard substitute, but everyone loved these. The salad dressing had a real kick and was the perfect complement to the potatoes.

  53. Made these tonight with italian sausage instead of breakfast sausage (because I had some local italian sausage I needed to use up…) and this was lovely. Hubs loved it as did I w/ a yummy salad- at the very end before the broiling, in addition to the extra sauce I added just a wee bit of grated romano. ;) LOVE!!

  54. Erin

    Made this last night with italian sausage as well – and sweet potatoes instead of russet. I pre-cooked the sausage (I used three links) with the onion, so I didn’t need extra oil. I also pretty much gutted the potatoes, and mixed the guts in with the sausage and onions. with the extra filling acting as a binder, i didn’t need the bread/milk, so I just left that out. I made them as your meat boats too – they were delicious!

  55. Auburn

    Dumb question here: I read two mayo-based sauces in the directions (one with anchovy paste, one without). Which is the potato topper and which is the salad dressing? I’m embarassed to admit how much time I’ve spent at my computer contemplating both options and can see that either way would likely work, so just wanted to see what you envisioned.

  56. deb

    Basically, in the third step, the recipe has you make a sauce with the mayo, some of the water water, tomato paste, anchovy paste and part of the mustard. You mix two thirds of that with the sausage mixture to fill the potato in the sixth step. In the eighth step, you use the remaining mayo sauce with lemon juice, remaining water and remaining mustard and make a dressing for the salad. Considering that it also took me a tremendous amount of time just to type this response, trust me, it’s not just you! This recipe is quite confusing.

  57. Julie

    This was quite yummy, although it was a fairly traumatic cooking experience. I don’t own a microwave so I baked the potatoes like I was doing twice baked potatoes but I guess they needed more than an hour because they were hard to get the guts out. I ruined one half and then got the rest. But the biggest problem was when I switched it to a broiler it ignited the grease on the pan. Whoops! There were flames shooting out of my oven. Luckily the potatoes weren’t ruined. So anyone looking to make this, learn from my mistakes! It was really good despite the trauma. And a glass of wine helped a bit, too.

  58. Becca

    So I know this is an old post, but I recently discovered it while trying to revamp my weeknight cooking repertoire. I’m getting a little tired of making a roasted chicken once a week because it’s easy (although not quick). This is my second time making it and it does not disappoint! Although, instead of doing the bread and the milk, I did as some other posters have done and just added the potato innards to the sausage mixture. The first time I followed the recipe and made it with breakfast sausage, however this time I use hot Italian sausage, I think I like it better with the Italian sausage.

  59. Jennifer

    It has been a while since I’ve cooked a homemade hot dinner for my kids-and they really liked (my deconstructed version) of this! I only had tiny new potatoes so I boiled those, and cooked the sausage mixture on the stovetop over the potatoes. My picky nine and ten year old ate theirs over rice, and it was a cozy dinner.