However, for those who are devoted to the simple spud, this is a good thing to know. I love a simple baked potato. Simple…well, I mean piled up with butter, cheese, bacon and sour cream. But, I am often surprised at how mediocre a baked potato can be. In fact, I had a baked potato in Dallas recently for which I paid good money from a vendor who had no excuse to not offer a superior potato experience, and it was just depressing.
So, just in case you love them as much as I do, I want to share this simple baking method. One of my favorite baked potatoes is at a different local joint and their potatoes are wonderful because they are crusted in salt.
This is similar. It is a potato you eat ceremoniously, from the inside to the outside, consuming every last bite of the peel. No abandoned potato hulls here. The secret is baking it a very high heat without wrapping it in foil. So, buy potatoes and all of your favorite toppings and call this dinner.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Rinse and dry the potato. Pierce it a few times on top with a fork. Rub the potato with a small bit of oil or lard. Sprinkle the potato with approximately ½ teaspoon of kosher salt (plenty will fall off the potato). If it is not sticking, you can roll the potato over the salt that has dropped off. Place the potato on a baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for one hour. Pierce the potato with a fork. If the fork meets no resistance, it is ready. If it is not quite soft, bake it for another 10 minutes. If you find the potato is browning too much, cover it loosely with foil for the additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. Beware, these dudes are HOT. Use tongs or baking mitts.
Here is a funny one for you…are you methodical about topping baked potatoes? I am. And I get inappropriately concerned for people who don’t understand the thermal implications of proper potato dressing. I might be insane. In my little world, the butter must go first, because it must melt. Then the cheese must be put into the potato and potato scooped over it, so the cheese ends up in the middle…melting. If you put the sour cream on before the cheese, the cheese will not melt properly. Then the sour cream, bacon, etc. And, I put so much bacon in a baked potato that it is almost criminal. It counts as a meat course.
And, this will date me undoubtedly. But I remember when the absolute height of fancy at a restaurant was when they had the little swiveling condiment caddy full of butter, cheese and sour cream, and the waiter would dress your potato table-side? I love that! I bet waiters absolutely HATED performing that function for 10 year olds, or anyone else for that matter. Oh well…memories.
Also, I have un-hydrogenated leaf lard that I use for pie pastry. I buy it from Dietrich’s Meat Market in Krumsville, Pennsylvania, or Dai Due in Austin. If I didn’t have that on hand, I would just rub the potato with oil. I’m not saying to go buy the shelf stable lard at the grocery store. It is a different product. I’m not saying don’t. I’m just saying it is different.