Introduction: BAKED POTATO "WHEELS" WITH BACON-WRAPPED MOZZARELLA "HUB CAPS"
Here's one of my easy-to-make, delicious recipes using baking potatoes, mozzarella sticks, bacon strips, olive oil and seasoning. With a choice to add side dipping sauces of cilantro and curry for added flavors. YUUUM!!
Step 1: WASH THE SKINS!
Wash the skins of your baking potatoes using a scrubbing brush to leave an all-around clean surface.
Step 2: SLICE POTATOES INTO 3/4" THICK "WHEELS"
Slice potatoes into 3/4" thick slices. I found this thickness to be PERFECT for this recipe. Not too thick and not too thin. Just right.
TIP: DO NOT REMOVE THE SKIN! Not only will it keep the "wheel" from breaking apart, it will also retain the nutrients and flavor of it.
Step 3: PLACE THE "WHEELS" INTO a POT OF WATER
Submerge slices in a pot with water to remove excess starch. Move them around, empty the water and repeat the process until water looks clear. Go ahead and empty the pot, fill it again with clean water and allow the potatoes to soak for about 10 minutes or so.
Step 4: CUT THE MOZZARELLA STICKS INTO 1" PIECES
While the potatoes are soaking, go ahead and cut the mozzarella sticks into 1" pieces.
Step 5: IT'S TIME TO CARVE OUT THE "WHEELS"
Remove the "wheels" from the pot and with a paring knife carve out the center, with a big enough opening to accommodate the rolled bacon and cheese stick. Go ahead and wrap up the bacon strip around the mozzarella stick. Using about 3/4 of the bacon strip makes the proportion between the two "just about right."
TIP: DO NOT use thick bacon cuts. Based on the opening you create, you can roll the bacon and cut off the strip and the point when it gets to be about the size of the hole.
Also, the flavor of the bacon you use will bring out its flavor at the end! (smoked, maple, etc.)
Step 6: TIME TO "GREASE THE WHEELS!"
Go ahead and oil the baking pan you're using. Use a brush to spread it around. I like to use extra virgin olive oil because of the flavor it adds to the recipe and how it interacts during the baking process.
Step 7: PLACE "WHEELS" IN THE PAN AND SEASON THEM
Position "wheels" in the pan as shown with spacing between them. Go ahead and using the brush, coat them with the olive oil. When done, sprinkle your favorite seasoning blend over them allowing it to stick.
TIP: I use a blend of onion, garlic, black and red pepper, paprika, cumin, sea salt and a "touch" of oregano and basil. I like the way they interact with the flavors generated by the bacon, mozzarella and olive oil.
Step 8: INTO THE OVEN THEY GO!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place pan for about 35 minutes.
TIP: Cooking times can vary depending on the thickness of the potatoes and the oven itself so the easiest way to test is with a fork to make sure they're soft.
At the 15-minute mark, go ahead and pull out the pan and with the brush, dip into the pan and give the "wheels" a good brushing. Repeat the process at the 25-28 minute mark.
Step 9: IT'S "SHOW TIME!"
Take out the pan and get ready to serve and enjoy them! Don't forget to turn off the oven : )
Step 10: MAKING AN EYE-CATCHING ENTRANCE AT THE TABLE!
Presentation makes a difference. Place "wheels" on a plate and for an "added touch" to your taste buds include both cilantro and curry dip sauces on the sides.
I find that these two sauces mix well with the flavors of the bacon, cheese and spices! That being said, some may like it "just the way they are!"
What's nice about this recipe is that you can introduce it as an appetizer, make it a part of your main course (awesome with grilled steaks) or as an added breakfast treat to go along with the eggs (and pancakes).
TIP: If you look closely at the picture of the baked "wheels", you'll notice a nice, golden color crust on top of the melted mozzarella. This adds to the flavor experience. Towards the end, as they're baking, keep an eye on the mozzarella and look for that effect. When you see it, the "wheels" are pretty much ready to take out. Do not let the crust burn.
If your mouth is not watering by now, you have no taste buds : )
Participated in the
Potato Speed Challenge