Martyrs are like new releases from Fischer-Price or Audi – we’re always very excited when the new models come out, but we really can’t help going on endlessly about how much better the classics from ’88 were (because, you know… those Cold War Germans knew how to make the crap out of a plastic toy for toddlers).
But, the greatest martyrs are those whose names History has forgotten: like the guy who dared to suggest that the white stuff that came out of the big swaying thingie between the back legs of a cow was not only nutritious, but surprisingly good poured over a bowl of shredded wheat. Or the woman who first suggested that you could in fact have a low-fat version of the “Triple Cheez-attack Bacon Bomb”, or the poor girl who agreed to have pizza with me the other night. These are truly the unsung heroes of sacrifice.
The reason I bring this up is that is that the other day I got a healthy taste of what it’s like to get a (admittedly verbal) flogging for having an unsexy opinion. When approached for my take on lunch options that didn’t involved Ingredients On Bread, I immediately stuck my hand up in wholehearted support for the Baked Potato With Stuff On It as ‘ultimate lunch winner’ to immediate scorn and dis-invitation to the Dainty Fingers Christmas Party.
You see, I blame Spur, and also possibly Mike’s Kitchen. Because years and years of being wrapped in tinfoil, drowned in enough sour cream to fill a paddle-pool and being offered up to middle-aged women too afraid to just square their shoulders and say in a loud, clear voice; “Yes, I’ll have chips with that,” has done serious damage to the baked potato’s reputation. This is also because the ‘Salad Valley’ at most steakhouses is an exercise in seeing just how much fried food you can put next to a piece of lettuce and still get away with calling it a ‘salad’. Needless to say, I think the baked potato has gotten a raw deal, or at the very least, in an age of “Hand-milled Quinoa”, “Steel-sheared Guinean Arflax” or “Couscous shaped by the magnetic power of the Great Pyramid of Giza,” lost its grip on the position of go-to starch of choice. So…humbly, and at the risk of a similar fate suffered by the Werschnitz family (inventors of the Cheddamelt Steak), here is my attempt to give the potato back a tiny bit of its pride.
The “Unpacked/Repacked” Potato
3 or 4 Potatoes
Good quality olives
1 tbsp Olive Oil
What to do:
Prick all your potatoes once or twice with a sharp knife and then rub them with olive oil and lay out on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a fair bit of salt.
Bake for about an hour and 20 minutes on 200ºC. At some point you’ll have to turn them so that the skin crisps up on all sides.
Meanwhile, remove the pits from a handful of olives and chop them up very fine. Do the same for a handful of rocket and get a bit of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese ready.
Once the potatoes are done, slice them in half lengthways and scoop out the inside. Be quite gentle, because you want the potato skin to remain intact like a cup. Once emptied, put the skins back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes to crisp up.
In a bowl, mix up the scooped-out potato, rocket, chopped olives and Gorgonzola with the tablespoon of butter. Now this is the bit where you’re going to have to use some discretion – because Gorgonzola is quite a strong taste, so rather add a little bit at a time, tasting as you go until you’ve got the right balance of flavours. Season with some salt and pepper and then spoon the potato/rocket/olive/cheese mix back into the potato shells and then pop it back under the grill for about 10 minutes.
At this point you’ve just realized that I’ve given you a recipe for possibly the untrendiest food-item ever: a stuffed potato.