Maine: New England's Potato State

Next week, the only multi-state agricultural fair in the United States will open in West Springfield, MA. The Big E is billed as "New England's Great State Fair" -- it's the sixth largest agricultural fair in the nation and the largest in New England. Each state has a small-scale replica of their state capital on the Avenue of States.

The star attraction? Food.

Vermont has maple syrup, Ben and Jerry's ice cream and lots of cheese. Rhode Island offers clam fritters and Massachusetts' apple pie washed down with, of course, cranberry juice. Connecticut has Italian ice and New Hampshire's chocolate fudge is amazing. Then there's Maine -- the building everyone flocks to. Sure, they have lobster rolls. But it's Maine baked potatoes (move over, Idaho!) that draws hordes willing to wait in long lines for a taste of hot, buttered, sour-creamed spuds.

Did I mention they weigh at least a pound each?

What about the leftovers? Ugh. I can't count how many halves ended up tossed after sitting in the fridge for a week. Why? Because other than breakfast fries, I couldn't think of a way to make cold starchy blobs lively enough to eat a second time -- until I came across this version of twice baked potatoes in a brochure at the (surprise!) Maine building about ten years ago.

The original recipe called for a classic Alfredo sauce but I had no Parmesan so substituted a mild Vermont made Colby that tastes so yummy, you'll end up baking extra potatoes (or buying a few at The Big E to take home!) just so you can make this casserole later in the week!

4 medium Idaho pre-baked potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
dash of salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheddar or Colby cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut baked potatoes into chunks. Heat butter in saucepan. Sprinkle with flour, stir into a roux. Add the milk and seasonings. Simmer until just boiling. Remove from heat. In a large greased casserole dish, layer the potatoes alternating with sauce and broccoli pieces. Hint: In a hurry? Buy a package of frozen chopped broccoli and defrost it ten minutes before assembling the casserole so you can break it up for layering. Finish with a top layer of sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Toss the ingredients lightly then bake uncovered for another 5 minutes -- serves 4.


  1. The potatoes at the Maine building used to be so much better! They've gone to bacon bits and cheese whiz, blech. I hope they go back to real bacon and cheese. And now CT is doing a potato, too. MA and RI also have lobster rolls. Maine needs to fix their potato fixins. Or I'll just stop by your house for this casserole.


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