Our Chopped Dinner Challenge this week was pancetta, a kind of Italian unsmoked bacon. We wanted to do a spin on the classic spaghetti carbonara and crossed it with a twice-baked potato for crispy, cheesy, eggy comfort. Chopped Basket Ingredient: pancetta
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with a rack set on the middle shelf.
Cook the pancetta with 1 tablespoon water in a large saute pan over medium heat until crispy and most of the fat has rendered, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and put in a large paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over several times. Microwave on high for about 15 minutes, carefully flipping the bag every 5 minutes. The potatoes are done once a cake tester or skewer easily pierces the flesh. Remove the potatoes from the bag and put on a baking sheet. Allow the potatoes to cool for 5 minutes.
Once the pancetta is crispy, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Stir the half-and-half, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into the rendered fat.
Use a sharp paring knife to cut a lengthwise slit in the center of each potato. Carefully remove the flesh, leaving about 1/2-inch around the inside. Reserve 1/2 cup of the potato flesh for another use. Place the remaining flesh in a mixing bowl along with the half-and-half mixture, 2 1/2 cups of the Parmesan, the scallion whites, half of the pancetta and a large pinch of salt. Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Scoop the mashed potato mixture back into the skins. Make a large well in each potato deep enough to hold an egg and crack an egg into the well. Bake until the egg is just starting to set, about 10 minutes.
Remove the potatoes and cover the eggs with the remaining Parmesan. Switch the oven to broil and broil until the eggs no longer wiggle when you shake the baking sheet, 3 to 5 minutes, checking frequently.
To serve, top each potato with the reserved crispy pancetta and scallion greens and serve immediately.
It's important to serve these right away as the potato holds a lot of heat and will continue to cook the egg if left to sit.
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