Baked potatoes are wondrous things. Tasty, filling, healthy. For me, the answer to the question: “if you could only eat one food ….”
But because I am so very much a potato lover, the potato has to be the right kind: a Russet. Sometimes called an Idaho. Or simply, a baking potato. Oval, with dark brown skin. The organic ones taste even better than the regular — the flesh is more intense, with more mineral tang.
It’s important to bake a potato right too: preheat the oven to 400 degrees, scrub the skin and pop the potato in.
Don’t rub the skin with vegetable oil. Don’t wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil. The vegetable oil adds nothing but unnecessary calories. The foil prevents the skin from crusting properly.
After about 15 minutes baking, pierce the potato with the tip of a sharp knife (so it doesn’t explode in the oven, which it can do, I can tell you from experience). In another 45 minutes or so it’s done.
You don’t need to do anything else. The skin is crusty, the flesh steamy. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Add lemon juice if you want some moisture. Butter isn’t necessary, even if it is rich and luscious when mixed in.
Although I never tire of a plain baked potatoes, I do make stuffed potatoes for company or special occasions. Like during Sukkot, when stuffed foods are traditional. One of the good things about baked stuffed potatoes is that you can make them a day or so ahead (even freeze many) and then reheat at 375 degrees.
Stuffed potatoes begin with a good baked potato. After that there are all sorts of possibilities, like this one:
Baked, Stuffed Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Spinach
4 Russet type potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped chard
8 ounces crumbled goat cheese
2 teaspoons thyme leaves, optional
4-5 tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes in the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes. Prick the potatoes with the tip of a sharp knife. Bake for another 45 minutes or until the knife can easily pierce through the potato. When the potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle, slice them in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the butter and mash into the potatoes. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chard and cook for 5-6 minutes until it has softened. Press to discard as much liquid as possible and add to the potatoes. Add the goat cheese and thyme, if used, and mix ingredients gently. Mix in enough of the milk to achieve a moist and tender consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture back in equal amounts inside the potato skins. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the filled potato skins on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until hot, with the skins crispy. Makes 4-8 servings