Shiitake bacon is not bacon, let’s get that straightened out from the top. Shiitake bacon is not pork. It is not meat. It is not fatty, salty, and smoked. (So much for telling the reader what it is, not what it is not.) It is however crispy, chewy, intensely flavored, and can be smoky-flavored! Making shiitake bacon is truly one of my favorite plant-based culinary techniques. Read on for How to Make Shiitake Bacon — and a darn good Baked Potato.
Wait, what? A baked potato? Didn’t they go the way of shoulder pads, high-waisted jeans, and spandex? Hmm. Well, those are back, too. Recently, a Baked Potato Bar offering up over-the-top hip-hop garnishes including lobster tail and vegan ground beef opened in my neighborhood. I did a double-take. Baked Potato Bar? It seemed like some relic from the 80s, in a time long long ago before Low Carb and Keto took over the land.
Baked Potatoes never left my kitchen! You might be surprised at a Baked Potato on a WW-friendly eating plan. The first thing to consider is that Russet Potatoes, the signature spud used in Baked Potatoes Potatoes are loaded with important vitamins and nutrients, like Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Vitamin C. They are also fat-free, cholesterol-free, and a good source of dietary fiber. It’s not actually the potato that’s problematic, it’s the toppings, but we’ll get there…..
What’s the Best Potato for Baked Potatoes?
According to the Idaho Potato Commission, the Burbank is the most common variety of Russet potatoes. They have relatively thin and light-brown skin, are oval with a slightly flattened shape and have a few shallow eyes. The interior is off-white to ivory and moderately dense. They have a distinctive, earthy potato flavor with a grainy texture and slightly chewy skin. Russets bake up dry and fluffy, perfect for a Baked Potato. In fact, the branding campaign has been so successful that Idaho potato is synonymous with Russet potatoes. (However, to clarify, there are many different types of potatoes grown in Idaho. It just so happens that the Russet is one of the more famous.)
A medium-sized baked potato is 5 points. Add a tablespoon of light sour cream (1 pt), a couple of tablespoons of shredded Cheddar (2 pts), chopped green onions or chives (0 pts), and shiitake bacon (0 pts) and you have a super satisfying, indulgent (but still good for you) dinner that will ring all the comfort food bells.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms have rich, meaty flavor even more intense than other flavors of other mushroom varieties. Partially, this has to do with the shiitake’s texture. Fresh shiitake are approximately 75% water, a considerably lower water content than that of many of its cousins. Less water accounts for shiitakes firm-even chewy-texture and intense flavor. This makes them perfect for shiitake bacon!
Shiitakes have been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years. In Japanese, shii means “from a hardwood tree,” and take means “mushroom.” They are grown on logs or in sawdust, so the only cleaning necessary is a wipe with a damp cloth or a paper towel. Use a paring knife to remove the stems where they meet the cap. The stems are too fibrous to eat on their own, but they make an excellent addition to the vegetable bag destined for the stockpot.
Once again, shiitake bacon is not bacon. This is not meant to be bacon, it’s meant to be evocative of bacon. The key is taking advantage of the umami-packed meaty flavor. The process is super simple. High heat plus a judicious spritz of oil and some smoky seasoning is all there is to making shiitake bacon. It’s great to make a batch and use for salads, vegetable seasoning, crostini, and yes, to serve atop a Baked Potato!
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Thanks so much for reading. I hope you give this plant-forward shiitake bacon a try! Let me know what you think.
Bon Appétit, Y’all
Loaded Baked Potato with Shiitake Bacon
- 16 ounces shiitake mushrooms stems removed and thinly sliced
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 medium Russet potatoes
- Light sour cream for serving
- Chopped green onions for serving
- Grated Cheddar cheese for serving
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking sheet. Scatter the mushrooms on the prepared sheet. Spritz with nonstick spray then season with smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 40 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- When ready to load up the potato, heat the oven to 425°F. Rinse the potato under cold running water and wipe dry with a clean towel. Spritz with nonstick spray and season the outside with salt. Place in the oven and cook until tender to the point of a knife, 45 to 60 minutes.
- To serve, split the potato in half lengthwise. Load up with sour cream, green onions, cheese, and reserved shiitake bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
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