Treasure Chests

Ingredients

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 2 oz / 60 g butter, melted, or
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz / 30 g ground almonds
  • 1 oz / 30 g fresh breadcrumbs
  • good pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Suggested fillings

  • soured cream, Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche topped with caviar or salmon roe
  • soured cream, Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche mixed with grated horseradish and strips of smoked salmon
  • soured cream, Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche mixed with diced cucumber and smoked haddock
  • Scrambled eggs and truffles
  • Scrambled eggs and caviar

Method

Peel the potatoes and shape them into deep rectangular blocks. Cut a smaller rectangle out of the centre of each, leaving a good ¼ in / 0.5 cm.wall. Brush the potato boxes inside and out with butter or oil. Mix the almonds, breadcrumbs and seasoning, and coat the boxes with it, also sprinkling the mixture inside. Put on a baking sheet, and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C / 350°F / Mark 4 until the potato is cooked crisp and golden. Remove and allow to cool slightly before filling (see below). If you want to make lids for the boxes, cut thin rectangles of potato, and prepare in the same way, balancing them on top when you have added the filling.

I have also served, as an accompaniment to salmon, baked potato boxes filled with creamy mashed potatoes and topped with salmon roe.

Variations

Select very large potatoes and clean but do not peel them. Bake at 200 °C / 400 °F / Mark 6, until soft, about 1–1½ hours then take a thin slice off one broad surface of each to form a level base, and scoop out most of the potato from the top, leaving a sturdy layer next to the skin. Fill each hollowed-out potato with hot soup, and serve. Once the soup has been eaten, the remaining potato skin is delicious. Use the potato you have scooped out for another dish.

Use small new potatoes. Wash and scrub them, and then remove a thin slice from the bottom of each to allow it to stand flat, and, with a melon bailer, scoop out a hollow in the top large enough to hold a quail’s egg. Boil until just cooked in salted water. Drain, arrange on an oiled baking sheet, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Crack a quail’s egg into each potato, and bake for 8–10 minutes at 180°C / 350°F / Mark 4. Serve immediately.

See also Baked Potatoes with Oysters.

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