Barbecue Pork and Pepper Jack Twice-Baked Potatoes

Pulled Pork Twice-Baked Potato
Pulled Pork Twice-Baked Potato

     So, you smoked too much pulled pork? I don’t call that bad planning. Hell, I call that good planning!! You went through all that effort and time to cook the perfect pulled pork, who wouldn’t want some for leftovers? Truth be told, if I’m going through all that effort to cook a pork butt, I’ll go ahead and cook two. It doesn’t take anymore time, effort or charcoal and it freezes beautifully.

     What to do with all that extra pulled pork? We’ve covered Pulled Pork Nachos before.  You could always do Pulled Pork Tacos or Pulled Pork Quesadillas. But we were looking for something a bit different for last night’s dinner.

The lowly potato.
The lowly potato, often overlooked and underestimated.

     So we were sitting around brainstorming, when Mrs. G ran across a recipe for Twice-Baked Potatoes Four Ways in the November 2013 issue of Southern Living. Pulled pork? Pepper jack cheese? Sounded like a winner to me.

Potato Filling
Potato Filling

Barbecue Pork and Pepper Jack Twice Baked Potatoes

(adapted from Southern Living, November 2013, p.126, serves 8)

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 4 oz 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, cubed and softened (1/2 of an 8 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups chopped barbecue pork (about 1/2 lb)
  • 6 oz pepper jack cheese + 2 oz for garnish
  • 1/3 cup minced green onions + more for garnish
  • 3 tsp Ranch Dressing Mix
  • your favorite barbecue sauce (we used Stubb’s BBQ Sauce)
Ready For The Oven
Ready For The Oven

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and line the bottom rack of your oven with aluminum foil. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork. Rub potatoes with canola oil and sprinkle on coarse sea salt. 
  2. Bake directly on oven rack 1 hour or until potatoes reach 210F. (Baking directly on the rack keeps skins crisp and firm to hold the filling.) Cool 10 minutes.
  3. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; carefully scoop pulp into a large bowl, leaving shells intact.
  4. Mash together potato pulp, cream cheese, milk, chopped barbecue pork, 6 oz pepper jack cheese (1.5 cups), green onions and Ranch dressing mix.
  5. Spoon mixture into potato shells, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with remaining pepper jack cheese (.5 cup).
  6. Bake at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.
  7. Top with your favorite barbecue sauce and green onions if desired.
After baking 15-20 minutes
After baking 15-20 minutes

     Did you know that 210 is the perfect temperature for baked potatoes with a crisp and golden skin and light and fluffy on the inside? I had heard that before, but never paid much attention to it. I’ve just always baked my potatoes as 400F for an hour. A few weeks ago, Mrs. G went out with some of her girlfriends and I stayed in and grilled a steak and baked a potato. Now, I know that my oven temperature is a little off on the low side, but I figured an hour would be fine. Not so much it turns out. The potato was way undercooked. Last night, I used a thermometer and one hour was not long enough. Two potatoes took an hour and ten minutes and two of them took an hour and fifteen minutes. I always say cook meat to temperature, not time. I guess I should start applying that to other foods as well.

When finished, drizzle a little barbecue sauce on top and garnish with green onions.
When finished, drizzle a little barbecue sauce on top and garnish with green onions.

 Twice-baked potatoes of any kind are a wonderful side. And one of the great things is that they can be made ahead of time. Just prepare the potatoes through Step 5 and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them for the second time. Or you can freeze them for later. Just place in the freezer for one hour until firm and then place in a Zip-lock bag or vacuum seal them. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight when you are ready to eat them. Then bake at 45 minutes at 350F or until hot.

Could be served as a side, but we made them as our entree.
Could be served as a side, but we made them as our entrée.

     As I said, these could be served as a side, but with the chopped pork they made a perfectly filling entrée for us. They were smooth and creamy and had a subtle hint of smoke from the pork shoulder. The sweetness of the pork was offset nicely by the faint heat from the pepper jack cheese. And the tang from the bbq sauce was a nice addition to the taters. what else can I say but these twice baked potatoes were out of this world good. The next time you cook too much pulled pork and are looking for something to do with it, I hope you remember these twice baked potatoes and give them a try and let me know what you think.

     Don’t think you have to stick to this exact recipe either. I’ve already got ideas running through my mind about how to incorporate leftover barbecue chicken or chopped beef into the next batch of twice baked potatoes. Maybe some different cheeses? Maybe adding in some vegetables? The sky is the limit with what you can do with these babies..

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4 thoughts on “Barbecue Pork and Pepper Jack Twice-Baked Potatoes

  1. Being we smoke a shoulder at least monthly, this recipe is at the top of my to do list! Usually we use the leftovers on pulled pork nachos…love this potato idea though. Really suits the “comfort food” needs of cooler weather! Great job!

  2. We do something like that called Hawgbacks, but they are not quite twice baked, more like a stuffed baked potato. I bet the way you did is really good too, will try it.

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