Donna-Marie Pye is a best-selling cookbook author that has been cooking -and chatting about cooking – for many years. Along with fellow culinary enthusiast Maria Burjoski they own their own cooking school and share their passion for great food with others.
She holds a Bachelor in Applied Science in Food and Nutrition from Ryerson University, a diploma in Public Relations from York University and has taken cooking courses around the world. She is a member of the Ontario Home Economics Association and Ontario Home Economists In Business.
When thinking about comfort food, chili and potatoes are right up there. Totally Loaded Pork Chili-Topped Spuds satisfies on both levels and makes an ingenious weeknight meal, especially for those nights when everyone is on a different schedule.
Baked potatoes packed with any manner of fillings are a popular meal choice in my house. I mean, we are practically talking about mashed potatoes stuffed into a crispy little boat—really, how could that be a bad thing? This version skips the pre-packaged chili seasoning mix, but still has all the south-of-the-border flavour.
Once the meat is browned, it takes no time to add the beans and seasonings to make the chili. Then the fun is up to you! Pull out all your favourite toppers, from grated cheese to pickled jalapenos. Have everything ready to go so each person can create their own version. If everyone is coming and going at different times, the potatoes only need a quick reheat in the microwave—that way, each person can have an instant supper when they walk in the door.
The potatoes get two rounds in the oven, first to bake the insides until they are soft and pillowy, making them easy to scoop out and mash. The second round is to warm them and crisp the potato skin. Russet potatoes, sometimes labeled as baking potatoes, make the best choice. Their high starch, low moisture content translates into a wonderful, fluffy mash that can absorb a generous amount of enrichment, without getting gummy or heavy. Their rugged thick skin makes an ideal shell to hold the filling.
While this recipe serves four, it can easily double. The potatoes store up to five days in the refrigerator, so add on a few extra minutes in the oven or microwave to reheat and dinner is ready. They also make a great tote-along lunch—but pack your toppings separately and then dress them up however you wish.
Totally loaded pork chili-topped spuds
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on cooking method
4 large baking potatoes (about 10 oz/300 g each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 lb lean ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp all purpose flour
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
1 cup black, pinto or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Suggested toppings: salsa, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, chopped cilantro
- Scrub baking potatoes well and pierce skins with a fork in several places to allow steam to escape. Rub lightly with olive oil and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Place in a 400 °F oven for 1 hour or until potatoes ‘give’ slightly when squeezed.
- Cut warm potatoes in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out each potato, leaving a 1/4-inch shell, being careful not to tear the skins; set shells aside.
- In a bowl, mash potatoes with potato masher or fork. Beat in enough sour cream or yogurt until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture back into potato shells; keep warm.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook pork, breaking up with the back of a spoon, for 4 minutes or until no longer pink.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, chili powder, flour, oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until onions are softened, stirring often. Pour in stock, cook while stirring, until slightly thickened. Stir in beans, cook 2 minutes or until heated through.
- Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture over top of warm potatoes. Top with assorted toppings however you wish.
To Microwave Potatoes: Using a fork, pierce the potatoes 4 or 5 times on each side to allow the steam to escape. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, as directed above. Arrange potatoes in a microwave-safe dish and cook at FULL power for 5 minutes. Using a fork, turn potatoes over. If cooking one potato, cook an additional 3 minutes. If cooking two or more potatoes, cook an additional 5 minutes.
Potatoes are done when they are tender when pierced with a skewer or fork. If you think they need a little more time, continue to microwave in 1-minute bursts as needed, until tender. Remove from microwave and allow them to rest, until cool enough to handle.
Another delicious option: Sloppy Joe Spuds
Increase pork to 1 lb and omit beans. Omit chicken stock and add 1 can (14 oz/398 mL) tomato sauce and cook 3 minutes longer or until sauce is slightly thickened.