Perfectly Baked Potatoes
…the humblest veggie reigns
When I was in Mexico fourteen years ago, I ate the best baked potato that I’ve ever tasted. It was baked for hours in an earth oven and served with salt. Whenever I think about it, I can still smell its nutty, slightly earthy aroma and feel the warmth of its steam wafting against my face. Over the years, I ‘ve attempted several times to replicate that very same potato. Once, I even tried baking my potatoes in a 200F oven for the whole day! However, after each attempt, I’ve found myself disappointed by the results. I’ve come to realize that replicating the potato I ate in Mexico is an impossible feat since everything about that experience, from the earth oven to the type of potato used to the soil, are all factors that contributed to its exceptional flavor.
Last year, I had another potato discovery: the Kumpir in Germany. While the American baked potato is typically topped with butter, sour cream, and chives, an array of unique and creative ingredients crown the Kumpir, a traditionally Turkish dish. The Kumpir I ate in Germany was spicy and topped with mayo, olives, green peas, and cheese. Its skin was soft, the inside was mild and moist, and the olives offered a delicious, salty tang. Though the Kumpir wasn’t quite as good as the potato I had in Mexico, it was definitely one of the best I’ve ever tasted!
Should I bake my potatoes in aluminum foil?
There are so many different recipes for baked potatoes. Ours is based on the Fannie Farmer Cookbook from 1969. When using this recipe, remember these two rules: first, don’t boil the potatoes before baking them; and second, don’t bake the potatoes inside aluminum foil. In the words of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook itself: “Foil steams them [the potatoes] so the jackets will be limp and the insides will taste steamed rather than having that good, dry, baked taste and texture.”
Do you use a different recipe to make your baked potato? Share it with us!
The Potato You can find everywhere
Heat the clean and dry potatoes in a microwave oven for 6 minutes. This will give the potatoes a head-start and heat them throughout.
Perfectly baked potatoes
by The Lore | January 2019
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 45 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour
- 2 medium russet potatoes* (about 12 ounces in total)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter*
- 1 tablespoon sour cream*
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 tablespoon shredded cheese, 1 tablespoon chopped chives*
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Adjust the oven rack to the middle (or lower middle) position. Wash the potatoes really well (a kitchen towel or brush will help) and cut off any green spuds (along with the skin underneath).
- Using a small knife or fork, prick the potato several times. Dry the potatoes before proceeding to the next step.
- Using a pastry brush or your fingers, coat each potato with a 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil. If using a cooking spray, thinly coat the potatoes in oil; they should not be drenched or dripping. Sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of salt on all sides of each potato.
- Set the potatoes directly on the oven rack. Place a baking sheet (or aluminum foil) on the rack below to catch any oil. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. The potato is finished baking when a knife can go all the way through without any resistance (see note 1).
- Take the potatoes out of the oven. Let them cool for 5 minutes, or until they are safe for handling.
- Cut each potato in half and scoop out as much of their insides as you can into a medium bowl. Add the butter to the potatoes and mash with a fork or potato masher. Then, add the sour cream and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste (see note 2).
- This recipe only uses two of the skins (see note 3). Choose the two that look the best and fill them with the potato mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top and place the potatoes in an oven-safe pan.
- Turn on your oven's broil function and adjust the oven rack to the highest position. Place the pan in the oven. Let the cheese melt and turn slightly golden, about 2 minutes.
- Remove. Sprinkle chives on top and serve warm.
- For crunchier potato skins, brush the finished potatoes with some more oil and bake them for an extra 15-20 minutes.
- When salting the potatoes, make sure to consider the amount of saltiness that's contained in each of your other toppings. For example, if you're using a saltier cheese or anchovies, you might want to reduce the amount of salt you sprinkle on the potatoes.
- If you intend to use more substantial toppings for your potatoes (e.g. toppings bar, nacho toppings, stew, etc.), we suggest you keep all four skins, fill them equally with the potato mixture, and then add your toppings.
Denotes items that we prefer to be organic. Read more about it here: Items to buy organic when grocery shopping.