February 22, 2009

By the skin of your potatoes

This afternoon I'm planning to watch some college basketball -- the best sport in America, in my opinion. That brings up another opportunity to talk about snack food and sporting events.

Let's get the required mention of the Bacon Explosion out of the way. Good. Now we can move on to potato skins, which is what I'd really like to discuss.

Yet bacon is inevitably the heart and soul of this discussion. It is the make-or-break ingredient in potato skins. If there's too much bacon, it overpowers the cheese. Too little, and the skins lack adequate texture.

Canadian bacon is a real no-no for potato skins. It's rare to see the ham-by-another-name in them, but you can find it.

Don't find it. There's a reason it's rare.

Large chunks of bacon don't cut it, either. I've had potato skins with one piece of bacon running the length of the tater -- not ideal. Any time you try to take a bite of part of the potato, you end up pulling the entire slice of bacon out. And then you have to try to tear it out fast, like a magician whipping the tablecloth from a set table, in order to leave the cheese in place. Otherwise you're left with a naked spud husk, which isn't nearly as appealing as a dressed one.

The moral of the story is to use tiny pieces of bacon or bacon bits. They spread the flavor and add some texture, but don't have the downside of large pieces. So go enjoy some sports'n taters!

As a side note, there are reports that Shamrock Shakes are surfacing at McDonald's. I'll run an ode to the St. Patrick's Day salute closer to March 17, but wanted to make sure you knew it was time to head over to the golden arches for some green deliciousness.

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