I grew up in a household that couldn't make up its mind on the topic of potatoes.
My father was a sweet potato man, through and through.
"Idaho potatoes? You mean, wet cardboard?!" he could be heard saying with startling regularity.
Meanwhile, my mother swore by the starchy, non-sweet varieties. Big ones, mashed with creamed leeks. Fingerlings, boiled and tossed with olive oil, salt, lemon juice, and rosemary. New potatoes, halved and baked 'til super crispy.
It was one of the only food topics upon which they didn't agree, the cause of many a dinner-planning stand-off. Eating and cooking had played such an important role in their early relationship, which began when they vowed to write a comprehensive dumpling guide to lower Manhattan — we're all still waiting on the manuscript for that one — and continued over burbling pots of spoon lamb, stuffed cabbage, and lots of Marcella Hazan pastas.
Perhaps as an overcompensation, I learned to love both families of potatoes — like, really love both, a lot.
There's so much to savor, no matter what type you're working with. Like how the flavor of the flesh mellows after a long visit to a blistering oven, becoming a perfect canvas for complementary pops of salt, fat, and acid. And how oiling and salting the papery skin allows it to crisp up, like a chip. How the sweet ones, whether orange-fleshed, purple-fleshed (Stokes), or white-fleshed (Murasaki, aka Japanese sweet potatoes — my favorite), develop a nuanced, caramelized quality as they bake. And how, with some butter and salt, the savory ones are as familiar and comforting as your favorite quilt.
It's no surprise, then, that I regularly turn to potatoes to star as my dinner entrée.
That's correct — baked potatoes so satisfying, you can serve them as your main course. In this version, garlicky Greek yogurt brings lots of tang, scallions deliver a pop of freshness, and mushroom bacon shows up with so much sassy, smoky crispness, you'll want to make a second batch right away. You can use this same recipe formula for starchy, savory potatoes, or for sweet ones, to remind yourself how delicious that salty-sweet thing can be.
Or if you're anything like my parents — and don't want to make up your mind — you can use one of each.
Fully Loaded Baked Potatoes With Mushroom "Bacon" & Garlicky Greek Yogurt
Makes: 4 potato halves
2 medium-sized Russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried but unpeeled or Murasaki (Japanese) sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon avocado oil (or any high–heat friendly neutral oil), plus 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (I like full-fat)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons microplaned (or finely grated) garlic
1 cup finely chopped scallion (green and light green parts only), divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus 3 tablespoons
2 1/2 cups sliced Portobello mushrooms, in 2-inch pieces roughly 1/8-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper