No, not THAT guy… I mean everything BUT that guy!
I’m sad to report that one of my favorite restaurants has closed as of Monday, March 3. Famous Murphy’s — recently known simply as Murphy’s — was a “Cheers”-like establishment (i.e. nice restaurant upstairs, smoky bar downstairs) in Reno, Nevada. Everything I ate at Famous Murphy’s was terrific. They had plenty of Irish-themed appeitzers, entrees and bar food, including a specialty baked potato that I’ll get to in a minute.
I frequented FM when I lived there, and would pop in most every time I was back in town. Although I only ate upstairs one or twice, I was a quasi-regular in their Grill and Oyster Bar. Never had a drop of booze, though; it was all about their S.S. Spud. It’s a twice-baked potato stuffed with shrimp, cheese, sour cream and topped with a mornay sauce. During Happy Hour it was a bit less than the usual $5.95. I discovered this unique dish when my fellow Reno Gazette-Journal co-workers and I would convene there late every Thursday night.
Their S.S. Spud, circa 2001
Living in San Diego since 1994, it was tough to go up to a year between S.S. Spuds… so I reverse-engineered one of these bad boys and the approximate recipe is below.
(twice-baked, shrimp-stuffed potato)
1 large baking potato
Two heaping tablespoons sour cream
Two tablespoons margarine
Shredded Romano cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Handful of rinsed and dried bay shrimp
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons margarine
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions (Mornay sauce):
With heat at medium low, melt margarine in saucepan. Add flour. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Add seasonings and cheese. Keep stirring until cheese melts. Should be pretty thick. Makes enough for about three potatoes.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash and dry potato, and ventilate with fork. Bake potato for 1 hr. 15 min. Remove potato from oven and cut off the bottom quarter of the potato. Transfer that skin to a baking dish.
Scoop the contents of the baked potato into a mixing bowl (be sure there’s no potato skin whatsoever in the bowl). Add large pinches of both cheeses, margarine and sour cream to potato. Mash thoroughly with potato masher. Fold shrimp into potato mix. Potato should be cool enough to form into a ball with your hands, and place ball on the 1/4 skin you placed on the baking dish. In this order: top the potato ball with a covering of Mornay sauce (enough to coat the entire top of the potato), then Parmesan and Romano cheeses, then a few taps of paprika.
Bake the potato at 400° F. for another 15 minutes or so. Serve immediately with lemon wedge.
My S.S. Spuds. Took three tries but I think the final recipe is about a 99% match.
I’m so anal in trying to replicate the dining experience, I even bought the same baking/serving dish that FM used, and use those little yellow “hair nets” for my lemon wedge. The only thing missing is the tinkling of quarters at the video poker slots, ESPN on the widescreen TVs and the occasional puffs of Marlboros irritating my eyes and lungs.
So I say farewell to my Irish friend, whose passing just two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day makes the occasion just a bit more depressing.