Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In Praise of the Simple Baked Potato

So you know what to do with bad produce.

Now let's take a moment to talk about good produce. Really good produce.


I bought some beautiful carola potatoes at the Union Square Green Market over the weekend. I pricked a few holes in the potatoes with a fork, set them directly on the oven racks and baked them for about an hour and a half at what might have been 400 degrees in my somewhat iffy oven.

They were just heavenly.

My family enjoyed the potatoes with salt and pepper, but of course you could add butter, creme fraiche, yogurt, sour cream, chives, parsley, etc.

Some basic tips:

1) Choose great potatoes. The wrinkled, eye-sprouting spud at the bottom of the 5 lb. sack might not be a good candidate for this minimalist treatment.

2) Look beyond the "Idaho" or russet potato for baking options. Carolas are a very creamy, thin-skinned potato variety, which for many people suggests boiling and only boiling. Your loss!

2) Fer god's sake, do not confuse microwaving with baking.They are not the same operation. A microwaved potato is a shrunken, wizened potato. No delectable crackling skin (yes, another shout-out to the potato skin), no sweetened flesh. A big mistake.

3) Don't stint on the baking time. 20 minutes of unwatched, undemanding baking time could mean the difference between a fully realized baked potato and an inedible horror. Don't even bother checking on the potato for doneness until at least an hour has passed.

Buy good stuff when you can. Cook it long enough. Eat the peel. Yum. 

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