4 medium to large baking potatoes, such as Russets, washed
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 pound baked ham from the deli, sliced 1/8-inch thick, cut into 2-inch thick strips
1/2 pound Gruyère cheese (about 2 cups), shredded
2 tablespoons butter, in small pieces
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only (about 2 tablespoons), chopped
Salt and pepper
Rub potatoes with a drizzle of EVOO and pierce skins with the tines of a fork. Microwave on high for 12 minutes, or until tender.
While the potatoes cook in the microwave, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of EVOO and sauté the chopped shallots for 2-3 minutes, or until bits are just tender. Set aside.
Cool the potatoes for 5 minutes, split them down the center, then scrape their flesh into a bowl. Set skins aside on a non-stick baking sheet. Pre-heat broiler to high with oven rack 6 inches from the heat source.
To the cooked potatoes in the mixing bowl, add shallots, ham strips, grated cheese, butter, milk or half-and-half, thyme, salt and pepper. Mash mixture with a potato masher or dinner fork until mixture is combined, but not entirely lump-free.
Scoop mixture in even amounts into potato skins and broil for 2-3 minutes to lightly brown stuffed potatoes on top. Serve the halves of stuffed potatoes with salad, dark bread and butter.