These potatoes are bad boys. You’re gonna love ‘em.
- 6 slice thick sliced bacon (at room temperature)
- 3 pound idaho russet potatoes peeled & cut into 2‑inch chunks
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
- 4 ounce cream cheese (at room temperature)
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup minced chives
- 1 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese (divided)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 slice good quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 3 tablespoon melted butter
- ¼ teaspoon dried sage leaves, crumbled
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
Lay room temperature bacon slices flat in a large, unheated heavy-bottomed or cast iron skillet. Turn heat to medium and begin to cook. Flip the bacon just once at about the 8 minute mark, and continue cooking until crispy; 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Roughly chop or crumble and set aside.
Place oven rack in center position. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt into a large saucepan. Add just enough water to cover by about 1‑inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan and cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Strain potatoes and then return half of them to the hot, dry pan. Turn heat to low and cook uncovered, shaking the pan often to evaporate as much water from hot potatoes as you can, about 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Let potatoes cool somewhat then push through a ricer into a large bowl. You may alternatively mash by hand with a masher or fork. Add cream cheese and sour cream. Mix until smooth. Add chives, ½ cup cheddar cheese, half the chopped or crumbled bacon, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Stir until well-combined. Taste to adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Use a large chefs knife to cut bread slices into ½‑inch cubes, then briefly chop into rough chunks of varying sizes. Move to a large bowl. Pour in melted butter, tossing to coat chunks. Add dried herbs and mix well.
Transfer potato mixture to a shallow 2 ½ to 3 quart casserole or 9“x13” baking dish. Top with remaining ½ cup cheddar cheese and herbed bread chunks.
Move to center rack of heated oven and bake, rotating halfway through, until top is golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with remaining bacon. Serve hot