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The Baked Potato

Ellen Shapiro

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No foil. Can you say steam jacket?

Pierce the potatoes with forks/knives to vent steam as Hahabogus pointed out.

My mom always uses Crisco/shortening for crisping potato skins. I suppose what kind of fat it is wouldn't matter as long as it isn't butter due to its water content. It always takes about an hour for oven-baked potatoes.

And bake a couple extra for home fries the next morning. :wink:


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Tim Oliver

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Some time ago I saw an Alton Brown episode in which he posted a recipe/technique for making a baked russet potato. He suggested coating the skin with oil and salt before baking, AB claimed, IIRC, that it would result in a nice, crispy skin. This morning I saw an episode of Sarah's Secrets, and she said that coating the skin with oil would prevent getting a nice crispy skin, and suggested baking the 'tater dry. Now, truth be told, I've not baked a russet potato in the oven since 1991, and at that I didn't actually bake the potatoes, but a house guest did, so, in essense, I have no experience in this regard. Anyone care to comment on these techniques and which gives the crispiest skin?


I bake large russet potatoes all the time. After poking a few holes in them, I either rub them with some type of fat (olive oil, bacon or chicken fat) or cook them nekkid. Either way, the skin is crisp. The skins of the oil-less potatoes, while crisp are definitely chewier (tougher?). My husband hasn't ever commented on noticing a difference between the two, but I'm inclined to think that most folks would prefer the oiled potatoes.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?


Twin Peaks

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  • 6 years later...

This morning I saw a video about baking potatoes and a question about using salt crossed my mind.  I have seen potatoes baked encased - actually buried - in salt, baked resting on a bed of salt, and baked  crusted with salt.  What do these techniques bring to the table?  Are the results using these techniques similar enough that they can be used interchangeably?

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


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it's the same technique as that used with fish.


For those unfamiliar with the method, here's the general idea: You encase a given ingredient, such as fish, in a shell of wetted salt, place it in a hot oven to cook, then break open the salt crust and eat what's inside. The salt works to seal in moisture and gently steam the food in its own juices, seasoning it slightly in the meantime. The finished product is invariably moist, succulent and bursting with flavor.

It's a technique that you don't see used a lot in this country, I think in part due to fears about dietary salt intake. But done properly, salt-roasting does not yield food that's salty — just perfectly seasoned. The method also has the advantage of avoiding added fat from cooking oils, which should make it a big hit with health-conscious cooks.

You can bake a lot of different things in a salt crust


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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As soba's link notes, the completely encasing in salt is a lovely steaming method. I have only done it with whole fish.  So it would seem not to yield what we think of as a "baked potato" as the skin would be soft? On the other hand a method like this sounds like it results in a well executed "baked potato" http://www.ourbestbites.com/2013/02/salt-baked-potatoes-with-roasted-garlic-rosemary/

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As I was growing up my mother would always wrap potatoes in aluminum foil (as was the convention of the day) but lament that she couldn't reproduce the great baked potatoes she had in restaurants.  So later in life, when cooking became a more serious hobby for me, and with the benefit of the standard books and the internet, I decided to research this more carefully.


I quickly found that aluminum foil was a bad thing.  Steam is really not a good thing for a baked potato.  A good baked potato, I learned, has had much of its water content baked out.  This results in the desirable flaky texture of a well done spud.


Salt treatments are meant to draw the moisture out  So I went progressively more aggressive with salt - from coating the potatoes with kosher salt to always keeping around a pan full of a bed of rock salt.  The results were very good, but one day, in a fit of laziness, I stumbled upon a method that is dead simple, requires no elaborate preparations, with results that are as good or better than any of the salt rituals.


Take a table fork and plunge it into the spud 4-5 times across the top,  Plunge it in all the way to the hilt each time.  Then throw it into a 450 degree oven - directly on the rack - for an hour.  Done.


I believe the merciless stabbing creates very effective steam chimneys which are every bit as effective as any salt application.

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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