Photo by Susan Spungen
These are more all-American than French, but straightforward and delicious in that very Julia way. Don't skimp on the butter--that's what makes them taste so good.
• 3 Russet (Idaho) potatoes
• 4 Tablespoons butter (or more to taste!), melted
• 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon freshly snipped chives
• Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Heat the oven to 425°. Scrub the potatoes, dry them, and poke them each a few times with a fork. Place in the center of the preheated oven directly on the oven rack. Bake until the skin is crisp, and a fork slides right in, 45 to 60 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully slice the potatoes lengthwise and let sit until cool enough to handle. Using a fork, scrape the potato flesh into a bowl, being careful not to tear the shells. Choose the best four shells, and discard (or eat) the other two. Reduce oven heat to 375°.
Add the butter and cream and continue stirring and mashing with the fork until fairly smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the flesh among the four shells, mounding it nicely with the fork. At this point, you could refrigerate the potatoes for up to one day, and bake when needed. Allow a little extra time for re-baking.
Place the potato halves on a small baking sheet and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until thoroughly hot and golden brown on top, about 35 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.