Making a perfect baked potato in an oven is easy, if you follow the steps below. This way you will get a potato that is so yummy that you will, nearly, want to eat it without filling! No matter if you like your jacket potato (as they are called in some parts of the world) with a nice, crispy-golden skin or if you prefer the skin soft, both variants are covered here.
Choosing the Right Kind of Potato
The most important step is to choose the right sort of potato. You want to look for middle-sized ones (a bit smaller than a man’s fist), without blemishes and, most importantly, of a starchy and floury variety. Choose the same ones you would also choose for making mashed potatoes, such as Russet or King Edward, but stay far away from all varieties that are sold as ‘salad potatoes’, they are best left for making — potato salad Depending on hunger, size and planned fillings, you will need two or three per person as a main dish and less as a side dish. Make sure that they are are the same size, this way they will be all ready to serve at the same time!
You want to preheat the oven to 350F (180C) so that it is nice and hot when you put your suds in. Putting them in a cold oven will make the skin ‘leathery’.
Wash the potatoes under a running water and brush carefully to remove any dirt or loose skin. Be especially careful when using new potatoes, as their skin is very thin. Pad try with a towel or kitchen paper, remove all blemishes you might see now with a small knife, pinch several times all over with a fork (to avoid that they ‘explode’ in the oven) and set aside.
Pour some good olive oil into a shallow bowl and some coarse sea salt, or kosher salt, on a plate. Roll each pricked potato first in oil and then in salt, they have to be covered completely with oil (use your fingers to rub the oil in), but shouldn’t have too much salt on them, just a nice sprinkle. This oil and salt treatment will make the skin nice and crispy! If you prefer the skin soft, especially nice with new potatoes from this years’ harvest!, wrap them tightly in some aluminum foil.
Put potatoes on a rack, not a tray or any other container, just on the normal metal rack, and put them in the preheated oven, in the middle position. An average sized potato will take approximately 60min to bake to perfection. If you do lots of potatoes, for a potato party for example, they will need more time, even if the oven is preheated. The potatoes are ready when the skin is nicely crispy and golden brown and the potato itself soft. When in doubt use a thing kitchen knife to probe them, if the knife goes through the potatoes like through butter, they are ready to be served. If you can feel still some resistance, they need a bit longer
Serving and Fillings
Take potatoes out of the oven and carefully cut lengthwise, don’t cut them completely, just around half the way through will do. Either make one long cut or two cuts in a X-form and press the sides of the potato so that the middle opens up a bit. Put your filling on top and serve quickly, baked potatoes taste best when piping hot
Time Saving Tips
If you are in a hurry, you can pre-cook your potatoes in the microwave, again, don’t forget to prick them with a fork first, otherwise the resulting mess is unbelievable! Take them out of the microwave, oil and salt them and put them in the oven to get crispy. Enjoy your meal!