When I was younger, there was a fad for those metal prongs upon which you impaled your chosen spud, and which was supposed to cook the inside of the potato more quickly. They never worked for me, so here’s my tried and tested method for perfect baked potatoes – soft and fluffy on the inside, and crunchy and salty on the outside. what you do with them after that is up to you, but I’ve put a few suggestions in the notes section at the bottom.
- a baking tray, or two. Large enough to hold all your potatoes, and giving them plenty of room
- A fork
- A sharp knife
- Potatoes! – I think Rooster or Maris Piper varieties are good as bakers
- Maldon salt
- Sunflower or Rapeseed Oil
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Wash and thoroughly dry your chosen spuds ( I don’t usually pick enormous ones, I prefer medium size, but it’s a personal thing – it’s important though that they are all a similar size)
- Carefully prick each potato all over with the fork
- Pour a little oil into the palm of your hand, and treating each potato as if it were a bar of soap, and using both hands, coat each one with the oil in turn. I usually get 3-4 potatoes coated from just one palm-full of oil
- Continue until all your potatoes are coated and shiny, and put each one onto the baking tray as you go..
- Make sure that the potatoes are well separated from each other.
- Sprinkle liberally with the Maldon salt, and then place the baking tray in the oven.
- Close the door and leave them there for about 50 minutes, when you can test them using a sharp knife. If it goes in easily, they’re done; if you think they could do with a little more time, give them another 10-15 minutes.
- The skins should be crinkly and crisp.
- Before you remove them from the oven, arm yourself with a tea towel (they’re going to be hot!) and the sharp knife.
- As soon as you take the potatoes from the oven, hold each potato in turn firmly with the tea towel, immediately cut a deep cross into each one, then squeeze the flesh upwards – this allows any steam to escape, and stops the potatoes from becoming soggy as they cool.
- Add a dollop of butter, and serve as soon as possible.
- For parties and gatherings such as barbeques or Halloween events, I tend to cook the potatoes earlier in the day, cut them in half, and using a spoon, empty out all the flesh from the skins into a bowl. (keeping the skins intact – you’re going to need them later). Season the potatoes well, add an egg, some butter, some broken up crispy bacon, and some grated cheese, and mix it all well together. Then I refill the skins and top them off with a little more cheese. At this stage you can let them cool down for reheating, or stick them straight back into the oven for 10 minutes if you’re eating them straight away. If I’m keeping them for later (it’s so good to have these done and ready to re-heat on the night), I arrange them back on the baking tray and chill them. 30 minutes or so (always depending on size) will reheat these perfectly when you’re ready to serve.
- I love a baked potato, or two, with any kind of grilled or even roasted meat.