I was in the mood for either mashed potatoes or a fully loaded baked potato as a side dish to our orange ginger walleye one night. I wondered why I couldn’t just fully load my mashed potatoes. Of course I could! I would add bacon, onions and cheese and it would be a new way to dress up some potatoes and make them exciting.
I wanted the rustic mashed potato look, the one where the peeling is still intact. I simply scrubbed about 4 large red potatoes and diced them into 1” pieces, peeling and all. I put them into a pot of salted water and brought them to a boil.
After about 15 minutes, the potatoes were fork tender and I drained off the water. I put a stick of butter and about a ½ cup of milk into the pot and made sure the hot potatoes covered the butter so it would melt. I let it stand about 5 minutes.
Using a hand masher, I mashed the potatoes well.
While the potatoes were cooking I had used a small skillet to brown up 2 pieces of bacon that I’d diced into very small pieces.
When the bacon was almost crisp, I added a thinly sliced shallot and one crushed garlic clove, stirring them for a minute or two just to wilt the onions.
I added about a cup of chopped baby spinach to the skillet and stir fried it until it was wilted.
When the potatoes were mashed I mashed the contents of the skillet into the potatoes then added a half cup of shredded cheese. I mashed a few more times until the cheese and bacon mixture was evenly distributed. I tasted for seasoning, adding a little salt and a generous amount of pepper then put a lid on the saucepan to keep it warm while I finished the rest of my meal.
I served my loaded mashed potatoes with walleye with orange ginger sauce. The potatoes were so good with the bacon and spinach flavors. I had the best of both worlds: mashed and loaded. They were also good reheated the next day for lunch. It was a little extra work with all of the chopping and sautéing, but it was well worth it for a treat.
Before serving I sprinkled the potatoes with chopped green onions, I listed them as optional in the recipe.
Loaded Mashed Potatoes
4 large potatoes; diced with skins on
2 strips bacon; diced
1 medium shallot; diced
1 clove garlic; minced (I used ½ teaspoon of minced garlic from a jar)
1 cup baby spinach; chopped
½ cup cheese; shredded (I used a white cheddar, any cheese would do)
½ cup butter; one stick
½ cup milk; or more to preferred consistency while mashing
Green onions; chopped as garnish (optional)
Place diced potatoes in salted water in a large saucepan and bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until very fork tender. Drain.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a small skillet brown the bacon until crispy, adding the shallots the last couple of minutes until they are limp and translucent. Add the garlic and chopped spinach, stirring until the spinach is wilted and heated through. Set aside until potatoes are ready.
Add butter and milk to potatoes, covering the butter with hot potatoes. Let stand 5 minutes or until butter is melted.
Using a masher, mash the potatoes to your preferred consistency. Add the bacon and spinach mixture along with the cheese and mash again to distribute evenly.
Serve hot with chopped green onions if desired.