Bacon and Blue Cheeseburger Potato Skins

I will tell you a little bit more about me. I love a good cheeseburger. Hands down, nothing beats a really good cheeseburger, and one of my all time favorite burgers is a bacon and blue cheese burger. Simple, yet complex in flavor, this type of burger has great smokiness from bacon, and a great punch of blue cheese that when combined with some quality ground beef, is just out of this world. But there is more to this burger. In my opinion, there has to be quality bacon and the right blue cheese involved. So this past week, as I really wanted to go out and have a burger, it just did not happen, however, I had the thought on my mind of a great burger and fries, and hence why I created this masterpiece.

Bacon Cheeseburger and Blue Cheese Potato Skins Recipe
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One of the biggest traffic drivers on this site is my loaded potato skins. There is no doubt why they are a big traffic driver, they are just awesome.  Easy to make, and extremely satisfying with every bite, hands down, loaded potato skins are a great comfort food. So while creating this recipe, I thought I would take my standard potato boat and put everything in that I love in a cheeseburger and get the best of all worlds, and that was easily confirmed after my first bite.

Let’s get started.

(Makes 8 potato skins)

Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]

  • 4 whole Russet potatoes, cleaned
  • 1/2 lb ground beef, cooked
  • 1/2 cup of great blue cheese, I used Hook’s Blue Paradise
  • 6 slices of Nueske’s bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste

Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Poke the top of each potato with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Cook in the oven for 1 hour. Once cooked, remove from the baking sheet, and place on a plate to let cool for about 15 minutes.

Cook your bacon, low and slow on the stove, for about 15-20 minutes. The low and slow process, in my opinion, is the only way to cook bacon as it really yields perfect bacon every time. Remove the bacon and let any additional fat drain on some paper towel, before you crumble it down.

Once your potatoes are cooled, use a sharp bread knife and you will cut lengthwise, into three segments of one potato, long slices. Each potato will yield two skins. Place the middle slice in a bowl for later use, such as breakfast the following morning, or heck for that matter, add some butter, salt, and cream, and make some rustic mashed potatoes.

Continue this cutting process with the rest of the potatoes. You should then have 8 skins. With a small spoon, being careful, scoop out about 70 percent of the potato, as you still want some potato in your boat.

Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Skins Recipe

Next, melt your butter in the microwave. Get your broiler heated to high. Brush the butter on the inside and outside of each potato skin and place them back onto the baking sheet. Season the inside of each skin with salt and pepper.

Place them under the broiler for 8-10 minutes until the insides get a bit crispy from the melted butter. Remove, and place generous amounts of the cooked ground beef into each skin, topping with bacon pieces and about one tablespoon of blue cheese onto each skin. Place these back under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Carefully remove from the oven, top with just a bit more blue cheese, and get ready for a flavor of explosion.

Serve on a platter and have your guests dig in. The subtle crisp from the exterior of the potato skin, with the tenderness of the potato on the inside, you get your french fry fix right off the bat. Then your burger fix comes in with just the right balance of bacon and sharp creaminess from the blue cheese. Smaller in size, and just packed with flavor, these skins definitely took over my craving for a burger. If you are a fan of blue cheese on your burger, definitely make these. You will be happy you did!

Wisconsin Resources:

 

Crispy Fish Tempura

My first job, at the age of fourteen, was at a restaurant. For some reason I decided to become a dishwasher at one of the busiest fish fry joints in the neighborhood. It was nothing to be proud of, trust me. It was non-stop, exhausting dish washing. Hundreds of plates, dirty silverware, and just plain old slop came rushing at me, only me, a mile a minute. I never complained about it, probably because I had no time to think about it, and reflecting back on the good old age of fourteen, I was pretty proud of myself. I was riding my bike blocks away, and heading home around midnight on a Friday night. How cool was that? The restaurant was known for its fish fry. When I did have a break, I watched the half dozen or so heavy metal, stoner type dudes tossing in fish into the fryers, picking up the hot baskets, dumping them into a hot tray, and then waitresses rushing away to serve the hundred or so people in the dining hall. It was an experience, and after watching these guys make a mess of the food, I never returned to eat there again.

Tempura Batter Fish Recipe

But it was the fish fry. If you are from Wisconsin, you know exactly what I am referring to. If you are not from Wisconsin, well, you should visit, especially on a Friday night, and visit almost any restaurant for this, almost religious activity, known as the fish fry.

It is almost routine in our family that if I even pose the question on a Friday of ‘what do you want for dinner tonight’, the answer is, 90 percent of the time, a fish fry. We love it, and as I have been experimenting with beer batters over the last few years, I have also been tinkering with tempura batters.

A tempura batter is really simple to make and yields a light, crispy coating, which is perfect for small cod filets.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups of very cold seltzer water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of additional all purpose flour
  • Cod filets, cleaned and patted dry
  • Canola Oil

Begin by mixing the salt, cornstarch, and one cup of flour in a mixing bowl.  Add in the very cold seltzer water and lightly mix. Do not overmix. If you are not going to use right away, place the bowl in a larger bowl, lined with ice, so that the batter remains very cold.

Heat your oil, enough oil to have the fish submerge, roughly three or more cups. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.

Take your cod filets, and cut into four inch lengths. They are easier to manage in the fryer, plus I think they are more fun to eat. Add the remaining flour to a plate.   Once the oil is heated, take a filet, place a filet onto the plate with flour, and lightly coat both sides. Toss in the bowl of cold batter, then carefully place them into the fryer. Cook until you have a nice, golden brown fish. Remove the cooked filets with a slotted spoon, and repeat until all of your fish is cooked.

To plate, add the cod to a serving dish and line with lemon wedges.

The result is a perfect, crunchy, but light cod filet that is super tender and flaky. A fish fry done right. You can also use this batter for any vegetable, shrimp, or heck, whatever your imagine gives you. Hope you enjoy.

Craisin and Cheddar Bratwurst

Wisconsin is known for their bratwurts, or as we know them, brats. Summertime is a time where everyone gets excited about brats, especially while tailgating at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. Most everyone that I know cooks Johnsonville, Usingers, or Klement’s throughout the summer, but what most people do not know is that making your own is not only easy, but it allows you to be very creative.

Ever since my wife fell in love with the chicken feta sausage that I made, I have been making sausage on a fairly regular basis. The great thing about making your own sausage is that you are the creator. I think of making sausage like making a pizza. It can be very simple like making a cheese and pepperoni pizza, or it can get as creative as you want that pizza to be. So after I began thinking of what type of sausage I would like to serve to my family and friends, I decided to make a craisin and sharp cheddar style sausage.

Homemade Brats with Cheddar and Craisins

I am so glad that I made this sausage, for only one reason, well there are probably more reasons, but one reason that I will get to after towards the end.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs of pork shoulder, bone out, cut into 2 inch slices
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of craisins
  • 3/4 lb of 3 year old sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Natural casings, cleaned
  • Sausage stuffer

A couple of key components when making your sausages. Casings and a sausage stuffer. You can get the casings at nearly any butcher, and the stuffer can be purchased online, or if you have a KitchenAid, you can get the attachment. Once you have these items, you are on your way to making great sausage.

So to get started, begin by getting your meat really cold. I place mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes before grinding. You want the meat to be really cold. If you do not have a grinder, you can use ground pork, but just make sure it has a bit of fat in there. I would recommend talking to your butcher and having them grind the pork shoulder for you.

Once you have the meat ground, take half of it, and grind it again. You will thank me later.

Next, take the shallots, garlic, cheese, and crasins, and run those through the grinder.

Start off by seasoning the meat mixture with about one tablespoon each of the salt and pepper. Mix well.

Homemade Brats with Cheddar and Craisins

Form a small patty and cook it on medium heat in a skillet. Once cooked, taste it. The key is to taste the sausage and season with any additional salt and pepper before stuffing three feet of sausage. I know people who have not done this and paid for it later!

Once you have your seasoning right, prepare your sausage stuffer.

Place the casing onto the stuffer, tying a knot at the end.

Begin feeding your sausage, working with both hands. Feel free to use a toothpick at times to poke small holes in the casing, letting out any air, and it will happen. Nothing to worry about though.

Once you are done stuffing the sausage, make into your links, or go old school and use the whole sausage ring, placing it on the grill. Depending on who you are grilling for, this can be pretty fun.

Freeze in plastic freezer storage bags, or if you have a FoodSaver, use that.

The best part of making this particular sausage was that everyone loved it, including my oldest boy who has refused to eat sausage since he was about three years old. Not only is he picky about fruit and having cheese in certain foods, but he had no clue. He loved it! The double grinding of the meat makes these brats really stand out in texture, and flavor.

I served mine sliced, and due to the subtle sweetness, drizzled a bit of Jamaican pickapeppa sauce for a bit of heat. However you serve these, you will enjoy them. Hope you enjoy.

Maple Ice Cream with Bacon Crumble

That’s right. I made it. Maple ice cream with homemade bacon crumble. When I first made bacon some weeks ago, I was thinking to myself ‘what am I going to do with all of this bacon?’. Well, that was a silly question as I was able to give some away, and well, the rest was easily consumed by my three kids. Towards the end of package of bacon, I decided to really do something different, and make something I have been wanting to make for some time now. Maple ice cream.

I first thought of the idea when I began making ice cream roughly one year ago. I would watch my kids eat a nice Sunday morning breakfast consisting of pancakes, bacon, and syrup. A breakfast that my kids just love, and one that all of the items just jive together so well.  That is when I thought, maple ice cream with a bacon topping. After all, my favorite part of that breakfast is really swiping up some syrup with a piece of bacon. That is all I need!

I proposed the idea to my kids, and they all had different reactions. My oldest who is a bacon junkie just yelled ‘bacon!’, while my middle guy just said something like ‘really? bacon ice cream?’, and my daughter, I think said something like ‘gross!’. Little did they know how awesome this ice cream really was.

Maple Ice Cream with Bacon

My kids loved it, and well, I found myself at the table, giggling. Yes, giggling, the ice cream was just that good. And I will be honest with you and say it might be the best ice cream combination that I have ever had. Ever.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of real maple syrup, more for drizzling
  • 2 1/4 cups of heavy cream, very cold
  • 1 cup of milk, very cold
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked, and crumbled

That is it. Five simple ingredients. Five ingredients that will really blow your mind. Not kidding.

Maple Ice Cream with Bacon

These ingredients are to be used with an ice cream maker, that is all that I know. I have never attempted to mix the ingredients and simply place them in the freezer. A goal to making any ice cream with the ice cream maker is to make sure everything is very cold, as well as make sure your bowl is frozen.

So to a mixing bowl, add the cream, milk, extract, salt, and the syrup. Mix well. Assemble your ice cream maker, and pour this into the ice cream bowl, mixing for about 25 minutes.

During this time, cook your bacon. Once cooked, drain, and crumble.

Serve by scooping ice cream into your serving bowl, drizzle a bit of maple syrup, and top with some crumbled bacon.

The result is something out of this world, and in my opinion what that sweet and salty should taste like, that and a bit of smokiness from the bacon, just escalated this bowl of ice cream to the top of my list. Hope you enjoy.