One of my all time favourite and easy dinners has got to be the good old Baked Potato. Simple, delicious and can be easily transformed into something a bit fancier if the mood takes you!
Now although Baked Potatoes are a British staple soooo many people don't get them right. If there is one thing I can not stand it is a wet skinned Baked Potato - it's just not right! This is why I will very rarely eat a Baked Potato if we go out anywhere. My Baked Potato has to have crunchy skin! It's one of those treats that is best had at home where you can lather on as much butter as you wish (in my case this is probably verging on a 1/4 of a pack!), and not feel in the slightest bit guilty about it. Here is my fail safe guide to how to cook the PERFECT (in my opinion) Baked Potato :
1 Potato per person - size dependant on how hungry you are!
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
The first thing that I do is get my baking sheet ready. I put a good sprinkle of chunky sea salt on the sheet where each of the potatoes are going to be sitting - a bit like a bed of salt.
I then stab my potatoes all over, I have a special multi pronged device just for this, but obviously a fork will do.
Then I stick the potatoes under a running tap - get them soaking wet - and then I cover them in a layer of chunky sea salt. Place them onto the bed of salt on the tray and place in the oven.
It really depends on the size of the potato as to how long it needs to bake. If you are using a potato that is the size of a large mango then it will need around 2 hours at the above temperature.
Once the potato is ready remove it from the oven and place each one on their serving plates. Now wrap your hand in a clean tea towel and give the top of the potato a short sharp punch, in theory if the potato is cooked to perfection this should make the inside all fluffy.
Cut your potato to how you like - I personally like to cut mine in half and then load each side with a disgusting amount of butter. Season and serve.
That is my perfect Baked Potato.
Now for the filling. Whilst I was pregnant there were a few of things that I craved. The first was pre-bottle Bitter Shandy - I could not get enough of it. The second, which completely disgusted my hubby, was french fries covered in baked beans and cheese, baked in the oven and then doused, and I mean drenched, in vinegar - BEAUTIFUL!!! The third, which although not as common, was a Baked Potato with the following toppings all mixed together : Baked Beans, Cheese and Tuna Mayonnaise - yes thats right, it sounds disgusting but trust me, give it a go and you might be pleasently surprised. Thats the sort of potato that I love when I am having it as the main event.
If I am using a Baked Potato as a side dish I love stuffing it. Here is my version of the yummiest stuffed potato :
Onion - diced
Bake the potatoes as above. Whilst they are cooking get your bacon and onion prepared. I like my bacon cooked until lovely and golden brown. This way it has a nice crisp texture that complements the softness of the potato. Saute your onion and then mix the two ingredients together and put to one side.
Remove the potatoes from the oven once they are cooked, cut them in half and scoop out the fluffy insides into the bowl with the bacon and onion. Place the empty cases back on the baking sheet and place into the oven just to dry out the insides - they only need to be in there whilst you are prepping the potato mix.
Add the sour cream, cheese - reserving a bit of the cheese to sprinkle on top of the potatoes - and seasoning and mix it all together really well. Take the cases out of the oven and re-stuff them with the potato mix. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place back into the oven for a further 10-20 minutes - use your judgement as to whether they look done - the cheese should be nicely browned.
These can be eaten as a non fancy starter or have them as a side accompaniment with pork chops, steak or anything else that you love!
I do love a Baked Potato, I am so having one tonight, but the question is, what with??? I'll let you know what I experiment with another time....it might turn out disgusting, in which case, I won't bother you with the details!