Things You'll Need
4 strips of bacon
Salt and pepper to taste
Baked potatoes with cheese and bacon make a delicious side dish to many meals that have meat as the main course. They are also hearty enough to serve alongside a garden salad or a bowl of soup. To make your baked potato even more flavorful, top it with additional ingredients, such as butter, cream cheese or sour cream. If you are the health-conscious sort, add reduced-fat sour cream, chopped green onion, or a spritz of lemon and a bit of fresh-ground black pepper. For the best taste, start with unblemished russet potatoes that feel heavy for their size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gently scrub russet potatoes under cool running water and dry them with paper towels.
Poke deeply all sides of each potato, 10 or 12 times, with a fork to allow steam to escape and prevent them from exploding in the oven.
Place the potatoes on the middle rack of the oven. Bake them for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until the skins are crispy but the flesh is soft enough to easily push a fork through. Add 15 minutes to the baking time if you are preparing four or more potatoes.
Fry bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Drain on a paper towel, and when cool, crumble into small pieces.
Cut the baked potatoes lengthwise across the top. While being careful of the steam that may rush out, push both ends toward the center until the potatoes open in the middle like a flower in bloom.
Sprinkle on top the desired amount of your favorite shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack or provolone.
Top with crumbled bacon.
Add salt and ground pepper to taste.
For extra crispiness and flavor, coat potatoes with vegetable oil and kosher salt before baking.
Do not wrap potatoes in foil, as this will trap in the steam and make the potatoes mushy.