twice-baked potato pie

Lu loves to eat food but I’m pretty sure she loves to talk about it more. She stands at the stove of her little pink kitchen and narrates the dishes she is making for us. (And for her imaginary friends, whose numbers are legion.) There are coconut puddings swirled in caramel, chicken topped with ham and Swiss cheese, and frosted cakes with sprinkles. Many cakes.

She does more than think about food, of course. Lu adores swimming, draws as many hours of the days as she can, reads at least 20 books a day with us, and is starting to read on her own. This is a kid fascinated with the world. But since she hears us discussing dishes at the dinner table — “What if we sliced up the jicama into batons and drizzled cilantro sauce on top of a little toppled pile of them?” —she has a language for food that feels natural to her.

So we listen to her. Not only because we’re delighted by her vivid stories but also because she comes up with great ideas for dishes sometimes.

A couple of months ago, she and I were sitting in a car in Arizona, talking while Danny bought a tank of propane with his mom. We were going back to their house to grill up chicken for dinner. Lucy, who was eating raw corn on the cob, looked up at me and said, “We should put corn in the chicken, Mama.” Puzzled, I asked her what she meant. She mimed cutting the kernels off the cob of corn. “Oh!” I said. “Do you mean we should shave the corn off the cob, put it under the skin of the chicken, and grill that?” She nodded, vigorously, then went back to her corn.

A couple of weeks later, Danny tried it. He cut the kernels off a ripe ear of corn. Then he sautéed them in a pan of brown butter and basil. After slipping the softened kernels under the skin, he roasted the chicken, basting it once in awhile with the corn-infused brown butter. Holy god. Try it.

So last week, when she told us triumphantly, “Mama, I have made you baked potato pie with cream cheese!” we listened.

And then we made one.

Lu had given us a little puzzle. What exactly does a baked potato pie with cream cheese mean? Do we bake a potato and top it with cream cheese and other fixings? She’s never had a twice-baked potato. Maybe she had invented one, in her mind. I’ve read of other people slicing potatoes thin and using those slices as a quiche crust. Maybe we should try that.

Danny decided to rice the potatoes. That’s a funny expression, isn’t it? Rice the potatoes. There’s a kitchen tool called a ricer, which chefs in restaurant kitchens use. When you crank the handle of a ricer, the cooked potatoes come out the bottom looking like little grains of white rice. If you don’t have one, and you love mashed potatoes, you might want to buy one. Take those riced potatoes, add butter, and just a touch of milk of cream, then a glug of olive oil, and you have the finest mashed potatoes, soft and smooth, without any lumps.

(You can also achieve a similar effect by pushing the cooked potatoes through a fine-mesh sieve with the back of a ramekin, if you don’t want another kitchen tool.)

We decided to take riced potatoes, bind them with an egg, pat it into a pie pan, and bake it. I’m telling you, it looked just like pie crust. It was soft yet held together after we pre-baked it. A new way of making savory pie!

Danny is passionate about twice-baked potatoes. When we had a bacon party, years ago, he made some pretty spectacular ones. Why not make a twice-baked potato pie with our potato crust?

And so he sautéed up several bunches of kale from our garden, in the fat left from the pieces of bacon he cooked, tangled up with soft onions. And he combined it all with the leftover riced potatoes and a bit of cream cheese, topped it with cheddar cheese and Parmesan, baked it, and tumbled down green onions on the top before serving.

I think it might be the best dish we have ever made. If you only make one dish from this website, make this one, please.

Lucy Ahern, thanks for the recipe idea. Keep on talking, my love.

Twice-Baked Potato Pie

This is comfort food, meant for cold weather and dark nights. There’s not much more I need to say, is there?

Except to point out that this potato crust —— which is grain-free —— would work well for many other kinds of savory pies. Start practicing. I’m pretty sure your kids are going to ask for this one again.

Potato Crust

6 large russet potatoes
1 large egg
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Baking the potatoes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the potatoes with a fork and wrap the potatoes in foil. Bake until the potatoes are soft to the touch, about 60 minutes.

Ricing the potatoes. When the potatoes are done, unwrap the foil. Peel the potatoes and run two of them through the ricer. (If you don’t have a ricer. feel free to use a mesh strainer.) Mix the riced potatoes with the egg. Press the mixture into a greased pie pan, slowly making a crust. Bake in the oven until the crust begins to harden and slightly brown, about 20 minutes.

Mashing the potatoes. Rice the remaining potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted and the milk is simmering. Fold the milk and butter into the potatoes until the potatoes are creamy and the milk is fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and cream cheese. Mix until all is combined. Set a kitchen towel over the bowl and put the bowl in a warm place.

Filling for the twice-baked potato pie
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 slices bacon
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped roughly
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced

Cooking the bacon. Set a medium-sized skillet on heat. Add the oil and bacon. Render the bacon until the bacon is crispy and the fat is glistening.

Cooking the onions and kale. Once the bacon is cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Add the onions and garlic into the pan and place it back onto the heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and garlic are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme. Once you smell the thyme, add the kale and stir it around the pan. When the kale is wilted, add the bacon and onion mixture back in and then fold this into the potatoes.

Finishing the filling. Add half of the cheddar and Parmesan to the potatoes. Save the rest for the topping. You are ready to make some pie.

Baking the pie. Add the mashers into the potato pie shell, gently, without destroying the shell . Top with the remaining cheeses and bake until it has a lovely golden brown topping, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Top with green onions and serve.


Feeds 8.

Make ahead? You can make the pie the day before you intend to eat it and have it cold, like a quiche. It holds up really well. If you want to reheat it, simply heat the oven to 400°, cover the pie with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes.

34 comments on “twice-baked potato pie

  1. Cari

    I make a straight up potato dish using a ricer, one of my most used kitchen gadgets! 8 potatoes peeled, diced and boiled tender. Rice the cooked potatoes and add the following 8 ounces cream cheese, one stick butter and 8 ounces sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to and oven safe dish and either bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or store in the fridge for as many as three days and then bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until warmed through. It is the perfect make ahead mashed potato dish ever! I am going to try Lu’s dish soon!

  2. Kristin

    Yum! Roasted some garlic yesterday & made extra, so I just may try this & rice some roasted garlic along with the potatoes. And keep the sliced too, of course!

  3. Paige

    Can’t wait to make this over the weekend. How lovley she loves to cook and that you take her ideas to heart. What a gem! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Jan Rains

    Wow, what a great recipe for Thanksgiving: side dish for us; main dish for my vegetarian sis.
    Lucy should collaborate on your next cookbook!

  5. Ashley A

    I don’t know if anyone else has asked this yet, but could you make this with sweet potatoes? Would you change the filling ingredients at all? (I like crisped kale “chips,” but it’s still a little bitter to me.)

    Thank you!

    1. Jen

      Obviously I’m not Shauna, but I thought I’d pipe in to say that I am going to try broccoli instead of kale. Husband doesn’t like kale, and broccoli is one of my all-time favorite baked potato toppings.

      Ahern family, this looks amazing. I will be making this soon. Probably tomorrow after I go to the store to buy cream cheese.

    2. shauna

      Ashley, you could do whatever you want here! That’s how we like to develop recipes, as templates, so you can take the technique and make it your own!

  6. Lisa

    Hi there! I just sent an email but it seems it’s better to reach you via the blog comments. I’m a newly-diagnosed celiac with a celiac toddler who is also new on Vashon. I’ve literally been here two days and I keep hearing about you. Also heard there may be some sort of baking club that happens on Sunday and I’d love more details. I’m an avid cook and just delving into gluten-free baking. Hope to connect with you on the island sometime. Looks like you’re doing amazing things. –Lisa

  7. Deidre

    For a long time I was scared of gluten free pastry, so I’d grate potatoes, add one egg and half a grated onion and line a pie pan with that, bake it and then make a quiche in it. DELICIOUS.

  8. Louise

    I’ve also never had a twice baked potato and definitely not a Twice-Baked Potato Pie! Looks amazing though – it’s a great idea 🙂

    1. Sara

      Grace, it’s six total. Further on in the instructions it directs you to take two of em to mash for the crust, and the rest go in the pie.

  9. Jenn Sutherland

    Hmmmm, I am in no way a fan of mashed potatoes – never have been. But if you’re urging us all to make this ONE recipe from all the other amazing ones on this site…well, it seems I must give it a go. And I know it will delight my husband, as I make mashed potatoes once a year on Thanksgiving. 🙂

  10. Dana

    Wow this sounds like a winner for me and my husband, and I wonder if my particular celiac girl who loves cheese something fierce but won’t go near a potato might change her mind with this comforting pie! I’ll give it a go. Thanks Lu!

  11. Wendybird13

    It’s colcannon pie! I haven’t made colcannon in ages, but I was just contemplating whether to save the drippings from browning smoked sausage for another dish. I think I’ll save the drippings and pick up some cabbage, kale, and potatoes.

  12. Pamela

    I’ve been gluten free for several years but am just now getting around to serious baking without gluten. I was too intimidated by all the specialized ingredients. But in January of this year, I convinced my entire family to go gluten free, so that meant I really had to step up my game. Anyway, I made this tonight and it was easy and delicious. I made the crust, took a break and took the dogs for a walk, then came back and finished it literally in minutes and popped it in the oven. Everyone said, “More please!”

  13. Jess

    I’m not one for following a recipe, and this is part of why I love your recipes so much! I played in the kitchen and made this for my family tonight. It was so delicious! My changes: goat cheese instead of cream cheese, boiled instead of baked and mashed instead of riced the potatoes, added spinach and smoked Hungarian paprika, omitted the bacon. The rest of my omnivorous family had meatloaf too, so their meal was a play on shepard’s pie in a way. Thank you for the recipe and inspiration!

  14. Stephanie

    Congrats, Lucy!
    I am going to try a veg version of this.

    I’ve always been one to “use” recipes, not “follow” recipes. Reading your blog over the years has added to my ability to build a recipe of my own from the thought of a food and the bags from my CSA. You posted, long ago, some cooked cabbage hash and tofu (egg allergy scare, I think). That photo, recipe-less, haunted me! Now, I have been making 2 different dishes from the fall/winter veggies we’ve been getting. Dish 1: onions, cabbage, peppers or tomatoes, cauliflower greens, etc. (spaghetti squash in there last time) with Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo and fried Queso Blanco. Dish 2: onions, cabbage, celeriac, turnips, etc., crumbled tofu, with cider vinegar, homemade pickled peppers, a lot of Nathan’s mustard, and swiss cheese.

    Thank you for inspiring us–I look forward to Lucy’s posts!

  15. Sara

    I made this last night, and the family loved it! A couple things:
    -I had to double the recipe (we cook for ourselves and another family on Wednesday night) and make part of it vegetarian as their daughter is veggie. This is a pretty simple recipe, but it uses a lot of bowls and pans, esp when you’re doing veggie for part.
    -I think you forgot to list where you add the bacon itself-I added kale to the cooked onion and cooked the kale up, but then later it said I was supposed to add the bacon onion mixture to the kale (and I hadn’t ever taken it out of the pan). I chopped the bacon and added it to the potatoes at the end, but I think cooks who aren’t confident might want more specific instructions.
    -I think sour cream would be a nice addition or substitution if you didn’t have cream cheese on hand.

    Really yummy-my young kids and GF husband thought it was one of the best things I’d made in awhile. Thanks!

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