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Potato skins go upscale

Like meat loaf, grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and other retro comfort foods, potato skins are getting an upscale makeover.

Many independent restaurant chefs are giving these staples of casual-dining chains and sports bars creative treatments. Whether its gourmet cheeses, scooped out centers or a dish based on French pommes soufflés, Nation’s Restaurant News gathered some of the unique and new dishes from New York City to California.

R2L, Philadelphia

Chef Daniel Stern mixes the flesh of baked potatoes with bacon, aged Cheddar cheese and seasoning. Then he puts them back into their skins, deep fries them, and serves them with horseradish crème fraîche and scallions for $10, or $6 during happy hour.

Park Avenue Tavern, New York City

Chef Jeffrey Forrest’s potato skins are derived from a version of home fries he learned from a chef in North Carolina.

He simmers whole Yukon Gold potatoes until the skins start to break, about an hour. Then he drains them and allows them to dry.

When the potato skins are ordered, he gently crushes the cooked potatoes so the insides push through the skin some more. Then he deep fries them at 360 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re golden brown.

He plates them skin-side down and tops them with fontina, Cheddar and Amish Jack cheeses, along with crème fraîche, parsley and thyme. They sell for $8.

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Anthony Pino, Hoboken, N.J.

Chef–restaurateur Anthony Pino, who operates several restaurants and a catering company, based in Hoboken, N.J., offers potato skins topped with pancetta, taleggio cheese and Brussels sprouts on his catering menu.

He scoops out the center of baked Red Bliss potatoes that he has sliced in half. He stuffs the potatoes with cubed taleggio, shaved caramelized Brussels sprouts and crispy pancetta, then heats them for three to five minutes. Five pieces sell for $9.

Studio at the Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Chef Craig Strong bases his potato skins on French pommes soufflées, for which he fries quarter-inch thick potato slices first at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for one minute, and then at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until they puff up.

Then he makes a potato purée by simmering peeled, diced potatoes in equal amounts of heavy cream and chicken stock, and then pulsing them in a blender until they’re smooth.

Next he measures one liter of the purée and puts it in a saucepan with 2 grams each of high-acyl and low-acyl gellan gum and slowly brings it to a boil. He purées the mixture again and strains it through a fine sieve.

He makes the purée into a foam by pouring it into a charged whipped cream canister and spraying it into a piping bag. He pokes a small hole in each of the pommes soufflées and fills them with the foam.

He garnishes the potatoes with crème fraîche, chives and bacon powder. They’re part of a set of four hors d’oeuvres, priced at a total of $25.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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