Baked mashed potatoes and cheese (with bacon)

Mmmmm, potatoes, cheese, and bacon ... what else could you want? Well, some Brussel Sprouts! of course! But thats separate.

This is a nice hearty side to a steak or something similar.

First, preheat your oven to about 200 C (390 F).

We start with making mashed potatoes, the normal way. Okay, if you really want to make it out of a box, go ahead, but its really not hard.

Just boil the potatoes, roughly one medium-large potato per person, and boil them well.

Let them boil longer.

Just a bit more.

Okay, now stick a fork in a potato and it should just slip right in, no resistance from the potato. If so, then we're ready to mash! So drain the water out of the pan and just beat the potatoes a bit with a spatula (we're not mashing yet, just breaking them up into small chunks).

Now, I like to add some crème fraîche to my mashed potatoes, but you can add milk instead, or some half-and-half. If you're going for the milk or half-and-half option, I'd suggest adding no more than a half-cup per potato. If you're using crème fraîche, I like to use one heaping tablespoon per potato; but you can be healthy and cut back on that if you like.

I also like to add about an index-fingers worth of butter. And then a pinch of salt and a bunch of black pepper.

If you have a potato masher, good for you! If, like me, you do not; then just use a spatula and mash the potatoes against the side of the pot. At some point, I almost feel like I am stirring the potatoes. In a way, you are stirring your potatoes too; make sure the butter and other things we just added are evenly mixed in with the potatoes.

How much to mash? Well, its up to you. I like to contrast textures, so if I were to have this with something tough, like a pork chop, I would mash it well to make it nice and smooth. But its completely your choice.

After the mashing/mixing bit is done, spread the potatoes on an oven proof dish. Note for you OCD'ers out there: It Does Not Have To Be Smooth on the top. Try to at least level it, though.

This next bit is completely optional, but I get bored while waiting for potatoes to boil (who doesn't!) so I decided to fry up some bacon.

After frying, drain the bacon for while on some paper towels to get the grease out. While its drying, I did the mashing bit on the potatoes.

And now we have some bacon bits to crumble onto the potatoes we just laid out so smoothly in the oven-proof dish!

Cheese! *click*

Oh, right, we're supposed to add some cheese. I added a generous amount of mozzarella and cheddar, and toped it with a sprinkle of parmesan, but feel free to experiment with different cheeses. Some good blue cheese (not too much though) could be really nice with the bacon. I then sprinkle a bit of pepper on the top and the preparation is done.

Now let the thing bake for about 10 minutes, but really all you want to do is check in on it and take it out when the cheese is nicely browned. My oven is weird, hence the uneven browning, but hopefully yours works fine!

When you take it out of the oven, it will be extremely hot; please be careful.

As with all the other recipes we put on this site, this is meant to be easy to follow. We are hobby chefs who love to cook, and we are always up for learning new techniques. If you know of anything in this recipe which can be done a different way, whether for increased ease of preparation or better taste, please add a comment below!

Whipped up by Shyamal Addanki

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