Sometimes it’s not about the ‘main’ course or the meat in the center of the plate, but rather the side dishes and accompaniments that go along with the meal that one can get excited about. The baked potato is just that side dish. So simple and easy, but prepared perfectly we could have a baked potato (or two!) just on its own for dinner. The important thing is to use the correct type of potato. Potatoes fall under two categories: waxy and starchy. Waxy potatoes are higher in sugar and lower in starch. They are perfect for when you want a potato to keep its shape, such as for potato salad or home fries. Examples of waxy potatoes include thin-skinned red or white potatoes, new potatoes and even new crop Yukon Gold potatoes.
Starchy potatoes contain a higher starch content and much lower sugar content. They are used for french fries, baked and roasted potatoes and even mashed potatoes. Types of starchy potatoes include the russet potato, sometimes referred to as a baker’s potato or an Idaho potato. Again, depending on the age, the Yukon Gold potato can fall under the starchy category.
For the perfect baked potato, keep it simple … to start. Then the possibilities are endless. Start with a Russet potato. Scrub it well and then bake it. Avoid wrapping the potato in foil – this never makes sense to us, as all this does is steam the potato in the foil and you don’t get any crispy outer skin, which is some of the best part of the baked potato. If you’re in a rush, an initial 6-8 minutes ‘steam’ in the microwave can speed up your final baking time in the oven or on the BBQ.
Pre-heat oven to 325;
Scrub potatoes well, and then prick them all over with a fork;
Rub potatoes with oil or butter and then rub the skins all over with salt. This will give the crust a fantastic taste and texture;
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until fork tender;
Enjoy your favourite way (i.e. with butter, salt, pepper and sour cream) or see below for some inspiration.
Avocado and Tomato Potato
Top hot baked potatoes with a mixture of diced avocado, chopped tomato, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese.
Top hot baked potatoes with cooked bacon, but try finding a piece of ‘double smoked bacon’ at the farmers’ market, dice it up yourself and fry it.
Try using up leftover steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus or green beans. Chop them up and sauté in a little butter; top potato with veggies and a little feta cheese.
Perfect Baked Potatoes (for 4)
- 4 medium to large size russet potatoes
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil or soft butter
- 1 tsp Kosher salt