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Choosing, preparing and baking potatoes
November 13, 2016, 10:01 am
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Whether served as a savory side dish or as the main course, baked potatoes are one of the simplest dishes you can make.

Mashed, scalloped, hash browned, fried and beyond — there are dozens of ways to prepare a potato. One of the easiest is to bake it in the oven. Not only does baking a potato take minimal effort, it also takes a minimal budget, making them a great choice for weeknight dinners. Just add your favorite toppings and you are good to go.

Choosing:

There are many kinds and sizes of potatoes out there, but generally he larger sizes are best suited for baking. The best and most commonly used are Russets (also known as white potatoes) or sweet potatoes because of their sturdiness and larger size.

Potatoes, especially Russets, will last for one to two weeks if kept in a cool, dark place. They should be stored loosely in order to allow air circulation. Avoid storing them with onions as they will spoil more quickly. Do not use a potato if it has soft or mushy spots. If it has sprouted, you can trim the sprouted area and use the rest.

Preparing:

Potatoes should be scrubbed, washed and dried thoroughly before baking. Trim off any sprouts or dark spots, and make sure to prick holes with a fork in order to let steam escape.

Whether or not to wrap your potato in aluminum foil before baking depends on your preferred end product. If you like crispier skin, then leave the foil off. But if you want to retain moisture and have a softer skin, then wrap your potato in a thin layer of foil before baking. Avoid the foil if baking in a microwave.

Baking: Depending on the size, a potato will need about 60 to 90 minutes to bake in the oven, or 6 to 12 minutes in the microwave. For healthy consumption, make sure your baked potatoes reach an internal temperature of 98 degrees Celsius. Microwaving is convenient and quick, but the result will be less-crispy skin. To get the best of both worlds, microwave the potatoes partway before finishing on the grill or in the oven.

If baking on a grill then make sure to fork the potatoes and then wrap them in a foil so that the skin does not burn or stick to the grates.

Serving:

Butter, salt and pepper, sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives, salsa and broccoli are some of the most popular toppings for baked potatoes, but the options are endless.

If you are serving them as a side dish, then simple butter, salt and pepper will bring out a tasty result without overshadowing the main course.

But if you are looking to prepare baked potatoes for the main event, then try mixing things up with chili, taco spices, roasted veggies, barbecue, stews or curries. If it is savory, chances are it will be great on a baked potato.

Recipe:

Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients

4 large unpeeled Russet baking potatoes (226grams to 283grams)

¼ to 1/2 cup milk

¼ cup butter or margarine, softened

¼ tsp salt

Dash pepper

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (113 grams)

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

Directions

Heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Gently scrub the potatoes, but do not peel, and then pierce several times with a fork.

Bake for an hour or until the potatoes are tender when pierced in the center with a fork.

Once cooled down enough to handle, cut lengthwise in half and scoop out the inside, leaving behind a thin shell.

In medium bowl, mash the scooped out potatoes with potato masher or electric mixer on low speed until no lumps remain. Add milk in small amounts, beating after each addition (amount of milk needed to make potatoes smooth and fluffy depends on kind of potatoes used).

Add butter, salt and pepper, and beat vigorously until potatoes are light and fluffy. Stir in the cheese and chives. Fill the potato shells with mashed potato mixture and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Increase the oven temperature to 204 degrees Celsius and bake for about 20 minutes or until hot. Serve immediately. 

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