Last night, I made the closest I've ever come to the PERFECT baked potato. Just like at a steakhouse....This is one of those dinners that you can customize with whatever toppings you have on hand. Below is my research--maybe you can use it too. Despite all my wording below, it's a RIDICULOUSLY easy process. But yes, it does take time. You have to plan ahead a bit.
I don't know about you guys, but I have always wrapped my baked potatoes in foil before throwing them in the oven. Apparently, that just STEAMS the potatoes instead of actually BAKING them (resulting in mushy crust).
A couple of tips:
- Use Russet or potatoes labled as 'baking' potatoes--they are white fleshed and starchy (which gives the their 'fluffy' texture). This will ensure that you have a mild tasting and not overly sweet.
- Make sure the potatoes are smooth, hard to the touch, and do not have roots (sprouts) protruding from them.
THE PERFECT BAKED POTATO
- Russet or baking potatoes
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt (or kosher)
Poke your potatoes with a fork 8-12 times--you need to give steam an opportunity to escape. If not, they can explode (imagine that mess!).
Lightly rub your potatoes with oil (some people like canola, but I prefer the taste of olive oil). They should be shiny, but not dripping with oil. This also helps regulate the moisture in the potato and also create a crispy skin. Sprinkle the potatoes or roll them in salt.
Now there are two ways to do this--1) You can place the potato directly on the top rack in the center of the oven. You will have to place a baking sheet underneath the rack where you place the potatoes so that you can catch any of the moisture/oil dripping (and therefore prevent a mess). 2) You can place the potatoes directly onto a baking sheet. This is the only method I have tried and my results were great!
Depending on the heat of your oven and size of your potatoes, they will be done within 60-90 minutes--if you have a few small potatoes, they can sometimes be ready in as little as 45 minutes--but check first. To check for 'doneness', use fireproof gloves and give the potatoes a squeeze. If the skin feels kind of crunchy but the middle feels tender, the potatoes are ready!
And to serve--cut them in half lightly and squeeze the ends while slightly pushing them inward (this is after letting the potatoes cool for a few minutes, or using fireproof gloves).
And here's the fun part--TOPPINGS!!!!
- Sour Cream
- Salt & pepper
- Green onions and/or chopped chives
- Cooked broccoli and cheddar cheese
- Cottage Cheese, Parmesan cheese, blue cheese, feta, or any other kind of cheese!
- Greek Yogurt
- Caramelized onions
- Smoked salmon
- ETC., ETC., ETC