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How to Bake a Potato

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Baked potato
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How to Bake a Potato

Baked potatoes are utterly delicious and they go with everything from steaks to seafood. A baked potato can also be a meal all by itself, or paired with a salad or bowl of soup.

It's also really easy to bake a potato. My baked potato technique involves baking the potato in the microwave for a few minutes, and then finishing it in the oven so that the skin gets nice and crisp.

If you don't have a microwave, follow the steps below, and simply bake your potatoes in the oven at 400°F for one hour. But obviously, starting them in the microwave will shave 20 to 25 minutes off your cooking time.

The best potatoes for baking are Russet potatoes, which are nice and big and starchy.

Also see: How to Make Mashed Potatoes
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 35-40 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  2. Pour a generous handful of Kosher salt into a small bowl and keep it nearby.
  3. Scrub your potatoes with a brush under running water, then dry them off.
  4. With a fork, stab each potato in the center once, then flip it over and stab it on the other side.
  5. Microwave the potatoes on high for five to six minutes. You should detect the distinct aroma of potato in your kitchen at this point. Note that for up to two potatoes, five to six minutes in the microwave should be enough. If you're doing four, you might need more like 10 to 12 minutes. For more than four, you're best off microwaving them two at a time.
  6. Transfer the microwaved potatoes to a sheet pan. Careful, they're hot! Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over them, and smear it around so that the potatoes are evenly coated.
  7. Now reach for your Kosher salt. Your hands are now covered in oil, so aren't you glad you already poured the salt into a bowl? Sprinkle the salt generously over the potatoes and smear it around so that each potato is evenly coated. I know, they're hot. Be generous with the salt. Any excess will fall off.
  8. Transfer the oiled and salted potatoes to the oven and place them directly on the oven rack. You could place a sheet of foil or a baking sheet on the rack below them to catch any drippings. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the skins are crispy and a skewer slides easily into the potato.
  9. Remove the baked potatoes from the oven. Split them open and serve topped with butter, sour cream and chopped chives.

Tips:

  1. Crumbled bacon, cooked broccoli or grated cheese make great baked potato toppings.
  2. A blue cheese like Gorgonzola is terrific on a baked potato.
  3. Chives and butter are a classic combination on a baked potato. Check out this recipe for Chive Butter.
  4. You may have noticed that nowhere in these steps is there any mention of baking the potato in foil. That's because potatoes baked in foil don't bake, they steam — which produces a totally different texture, and won't give the potato a crispy skin. So don't bake potatoes in foil. Especially not in the microwave!
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