Procrastination: it’s a thing for me. Okay, maybe more like a way of life.
Tonight, when faced with the one-month overdue task of writing this post, I announced I would take a shower before beginning to write. That turned into an opportunity to try out my newest skin care samples. While trying them I decided to clean out my makeup bag. Midway through tossing out 10-year old eye liners, I discovered a little 3-year old had used my good make-up brushes to paint with something stickey-yet-slimy (Vaseline? Neosporin?). I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to find something to clean the brushes which would cut through and clean the goop. By the time I was done putzing around and settled down with the perfectly sharp pencil (because nothing is better than writing with pencil and paper) and set out to write this piece, it was a full hour and a half later (but my make-up bag is in great shape).
Perhaps this is why easy meals are my new obsession. Not just fast meals. The procrastinator can turn a meal dubbed as a 20 minute meal into a 2 hour time hog. An easy meal is more suited to the career procrastinator. What’s the difference? A fast meal has you doing a bunch of stuff at the same time; you boil water and cook pasta and while that is happening you are pounding, breading and frying chicken cutlets. The procrastinator can’t handle this. The Procrastinator turns on the water to boil and notices all the smudges on the microwave. Then when the procrastinator goes to mix the flour, egg and breadcrumbs to coat the chicken they have to stop to refill the pepper mill and when they have the spices out they realize that they are running low on paprika and that turns into a list of all the spices that need replenishing. You get the idea.
An easy recipe is different. An easy recipe only has a few steps. It might take a lot longer than 20 minutes, but has very little that actually needs to be done at any given time. In this recipe all you have to do is bake potatoes, toss already cooked meat with already prepared barbecue sauce, and then mash the cooked potatoes with a little butter, chives and cheese; and you can even do that ahead of time. Yes, the easy meal is the thing for the Procrastinator.
This is one of those recipes that is also fantastic because it is a great way to use up leftover meat. I call for chicken, but I also made it once with leftover brisket – delish! You can, of course, use any barbecue sauce; homemade or bottled. Homemade sauce doesn’t have to be involved or difficult. While my favorite remains my father’s Alabama Red Barbecue Sauce, this easy version from Cooking Light is now a staple in my kitchen. I make only the sauce part of the recipe and keep it stored in the fridge; it is an easy and delicious sauce.
When I first started making this meal, I used all sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes baked up too wet and when you added the rich sweet potato with the cheese and barbecue sauce the flavor was too rich for a pleasant meal. By using half sweet potatoes and half russets, you end up with a classic twice-baked potato texture, but with a sweet potato sweetness. I also like to use white cheddar here as orange cheddar can hide the beautiful color the sweet potato adds.
If you make these ahead of time then the easy meal factor is off the charts. Even if you make them the same day, this recipe is procrastination friendly. You can pop the potatoes in the oven and have plenty of time for puttering, loitering, filibustering, or lollygagging. However you make these potatoes, you’ll still get dinner on the table on time and make everyone happy. Enjoy!
- 2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups boneless chicken (from roasted or grilled chicken), pulled or chopped
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thoroughly wash and scrub the outside of all of the potatoes and make a small slit in the sides of each potato for steam to escape. Dry the outsides of the potatoes and rub with the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife slides into the potatoes with no resistance. Remove from the oven and increase oven temperature to 450.
- While the potatoes bake, combine the chicken meat and barbecue sauce and set aside.
- Slice the potatoes in half and allow to cool slightly. Use a spoon to carefully scoop the potato meat from the skin into a bowl. Place the skins, empty side up on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Using a potato masher, potato ricer or food mill to mash the potato. Add the buttermilk and mix. Add the butter, cheese and snipped chives and mix until just combined.
- Spoon about 1/4 cup of barbecue chicken mixture into the bottom of each potato skin. Use a pastry bag with a large star tip (or no tip) or use a spoon to evenly pile the potato mixture on top of the barbecue-filled skins. Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the tops start to brown and the cheese has melted. Serve hot.
- To make ahead of time, cover and refrigerate after filling the potatoes, but before baking the second time. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and the tops are lightly brown.