Or, how to dress up a customizable potato! 😉
You will need…
4 russet potatoes
1 medium package of good-quality bacon
1 block of extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 block of parmesan cheese
1 block of fontina cheese
1 yellow onion
1 lb chicken breast tenders
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil for cooking
Butter for cooking
Butter for the potatoes
Bake the potatoes in your oven at 425 degrees for about an hour. It’s very easy to tell when baked potatoes are done because you can cut into one, and it will either look and feel like a raw potato, or a cooked potato. I recommend looking for 4 potatoes that are the same size so they will all be ready at the same time.
The first step while the potatoes are in the oven is to caramelize the onion and shallots. Take off the skin and slice them thinly. Heat a small pan with a generous amount of butter over medium-low heat, and add the onions and shallots. You should hear a bit of a sizzle. Turn the heat down to low and stir. Salt the onions and shallots. Let cook for approximately half an hour, stirring every few minutes. Taste after they’ve been cooking for about 25 minutes. Once you’re happy with the texture and caramel-ization level, take them out of the pan and set them aside.
The next step is to cook the chicken. Prepare your pan over medium heat and add a pat of butter and several swishes of olive oil so the pan is well-coated. (Not too much oil and butter, though – Remember that we are sautéing, not deep-frying!)
Slice your 2 cloves of garlic and add them to the pan. Cook for one to two minutes, then remove the garlic and immediately add the chicken. (Discard the garlic.)
Cook the chicken until it is nicely browned on one side, and white will be creeping up the edges of the side that is facing up. When that happens, you will know it is time to flip the chicken.
Flip the chicken and cook it completely through. Set the chicken aside on a plate. Now is a great time to cook the bacon!
Here’s how I learned to cook bacon: Separate the slices of bacon from the package and line them up on a plate. Now wash your hands. Heat up a pan on medium and use a fork to put a tester piece of bacon in when you think the pan is hot. When you hear the sizzle, fill the pan with bacon. Do not crowd the pan.
Flip the bacon often until the meat is cooked through and much of the fat has rendered off. You will want to get out an empty jar and spoon the fat from the pan into the jar so that you don’t deep-fry or burn the bacon. When you’re done cooking, seal the jar well, throw out the jar, and take out the trash. No one likes the smell of bacon fat the next morning at breakfast.
As each piece of bacon is done, take it out with your clean fork (this is a different fork than you put the bacon in the pan with because we are talking about not getting trichinosis here!) and put it on a plate lined with a paper towel. Continue to cook the entire package of bacon. Set aside.
It is now time to turn your attention to the cheese. You probably have some idea of how much your dinner companions love cheese. If they REALLY, REALLY love cheese, you obviously need to grate more of it than if they simply want a taste of cheese. Use a small plate or bowl for each of the three cheeses.
Here’s where it all comes together. If the chicken is getting cold, you can briefly microwave it. On the table or counter, gather the plates of chicken, bacon, cheese, onions and shallots, your salt and butter containers, and give each person a potato to customize.