Footballs were NEVER actually made from pig leather, but the name became stuck to America’s favorite game. We’re stealing it for a recipe.
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Now that you know how to make Southern Pulled Pork (With a Sacrilegious Yankee Hack) and Minimalist Chili, what better for a football game TV tray than a platter that offers both? And what better vehicle for presenting these two paradigms of beer-friendly country fare as one-handed finger food than potato skins?
“Pigskins”-- Potatoes stuffed with cheddar-topped chili and
pulled pork slathered with BBQ sauce.
In my experience and perhaps yours, re-stuffed potato skins are often soggy and fall apart easily. We’ve figured out a relatively simple fix for that.
Purchase the requisite amount of RUSSET potatoes. (No other kind works nearly as well.) If you are selecting them from an open bin, choose smallish potatoes of somewhat uniform size. Buying a 5 lb. bag will most likely get you potatoes of widely varying size; however, I have found success buying these at RESTAURANT DEPOT, where they offer bags of uniformly smallish russets at their usual unbeatable price.
Wash the potatoes, dry them, and bake them at 400ºF in your largest Pyrex dish until they are soft to the pinch. (No need for poking them with a fork beforehand or wrapping them in foil.)
Allow them to cool enough to handle comfortably, then slice lengthwise across the thickest diameter in order to obtain flattish halves that won’t capsize on your serving platter.
Carefully scoop out the potato flesh, leaving ¼” or so of potato attached to the skin. (Save this precious flesh you scooped out for making your next batch of mashed potatoes.)
Set your oven to low broil. Using either your Pyrex or a half sheet pan lined with baking paper, lay out the potato halves skin side up and brush lightly with grape seed oil. Broil until lightly crisped.
Turn potato halves over, then lightly brush their interiors with clarified butter. Gently broil until they sizzle and just begin to color. They’re done.
The result of this process will be a firm skin with a delightful crackle, sturdy enough to support their fillings of chili and pulled pork. These skins needn’t be served right away, nor must they be reheated for service, as they’ll warm up just fine when you fill them with reheated pulled pork and/or chili. (I like to top the chili pigskins with cheddar or other cheese and then give it a quick flash under the high broiler to melt it.)
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Potato skins crisped up like this aren’t just for football food… when feeding a full dinner to a large crowd, they make an excellent vehicle for serving mashed potatoes. If you want to make them nice and fancy, brown them a little beneath your broiler just prior to service. My preference here is for mashed potatoes with a little cheese mixed in and topped with crumbled bacon.