Jacket Potatoes with Chili and Cheese

Saturday 9 January 2010

Ahhh . . . the perfect baked potato. Crisp and slightly salted on the outside, and creamy white and fluffy on the inside.

The first meal I ever had in England was a Jacket potato, served at one of those fast food kiosks at Euston Station. We were waiting for the train to take Todd and myself up to Chester, and it was a long wait. We were both starving. I had never seen anything like it in my life. The potato was enormous and came wrapped in silver foil, sitting in a styrafoam type of bowl/box. Split open, right through the foil, and mounded with oodles and ooodles of cheese.

I know . . . I was playing it safe. I had never heard of the toppings they suggested on the menu before . . . things like Tuna and Sweetcorn, Coleslaw, baked beans etc. Cheese seemed to be the least wierd to me.

Oh, we had baked potatoes at home, but we called them baked potatoes. Somehow the term Jacket Potato sounds exotic and even more delicious. Back home we would more than likely top them with some butter, sour cream, chopped spring onions and bacon bits . . . and they would be for the most part an accompaniment to a main course . . . usually a steak . . .

Sometimes my mom would even dig out the insides and mix the potato flesh with cheese, butter, onion and milk . . . and then she would stuff it back into the skins. Those were one of our favourite treats when I was growing up. We'd each get one half of a potato, and it was never enough . . . we were always left wanting more.

I had never heard of them being used as the whole entree.

It was good. Hot, filling and very cheesy. The potato could have been cooked better through. Wrapped in foil, it was for the most part steamed . . . you couldn't really call it baked . . . but when you're starving, you're just not that picky.

Once you have tried a tasty baked potato, that has been washed, lightly salted and then baked in a hot oven directly on the oven rack . . . once you have bitten into that crisp brown and salty skin, covering a beautifully fluffy rich centre . . . you'll never settle for a second rate tinfoil steamed potato again.


You want a nice fluffy type of potato to begin with . . . something like a Maris Piper, or a King Edward, my personal favourite. Waxy potatoes just won't do. They don't fluff up, but remain solid. You also want a biggun. That's if you are going for a whole meal experience. You can do smaller ones of course, and in truth the small ones are quite tasty when baked in the convection oven.

The toppings are where you get to let your imaginations run wild, and where you can turn this delicious beast into a full meal instead of a pale accompaniment . . . Tinned baked beans, hot and steaming and slathered with grated cheese, which melts into all that beany goodness, which in turn is soaking into that potato fluff. Tuna salad, with lots of chopped red onion, mayo and celery, spooned onto the top and into that creamy white fluffy crevice. If you are feeling really brave, add some sweet corn, (it's not as strange and inedible as it sounds) . . . A nice fat tub of coleslaw (I like the cheese coleslaw) ladled on top, all crunchy and saucy, just perfect with that soulful mealiness beneath . . . simple cheese, bacon and onion, along with a splash of sour cream . . . perfection, simple butter, sea salt and pepper, bliss . . . bliss . . . bliss . . .

I love that name . . . Jacket Potato . . . it sounds like something all dressed up and fit for a king.

In truth . . . this is fit for a king. Simple??? Certainly. Common??? Definitely not. Nigel Slater recommends Karate chopping it open, but me, I'm not that brave. I just hack it open with a knife . . .

*Jacket Potato with Chili and Cheese*
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

Comfort food at it's best.

2 large baking potatoes
sea salt
410g tin of chili con carne
(I used Stagg)
2 ounces strong cheddar cheese, grated

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Scrub the potatoes well and then while they are still damp, dust them lightly with the sea salt and allow to air dry for several minutes. Prick in a few places with a fork so that they don't burst in the oven and then place them into the heated oven, directly on the oven rack.

Bake until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. (They will yield lightly when pressed with a gloved hand) This will take between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the variety and size of your potatoes.

About 10 minutes before the potatoes are done, empty the chili into a saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until heated through and bubbling. Grate the cheese on the large holes of a box grater.

Take your baked potatoes from the oven. Cut an x into the top of each and squeeze them slightly to fluff up the insides. If you want, now is the time to fork in a bit of butter. Place the potatoes onto two heated plates. Spoon the hot chili over top of each, and sprinkle on the grated cheese, dividing it between both potatoes. Serve immediately.


  1. Yum! Another dose of comfort food from the amazing Marie! We just got back from a ward potluck and you've got me hungry for a lovely jacket potato--just the way you describe! Love them smothered with chili and cheese--just perfect! Hope you're in the middle of a lovely weekend, my dear friend! Stay close to that fireplace with some toasty slippers on!

  2. Fluffy potatoes taste the best! :) This looks so wonderful.

  3. O dear, I am dribbling into my keyboard!

  4. Marie, you can never go far wrong with a jacket potato. Chili and cheese or baked beans are my favourite fillings.

  5. Couldn't be tastier or easier--YUM!! I've not made this in a while--must do! Happy Weekend, dear Marie :o) ((HUGS))

  6. Love the little song that goes with this dish too..Oh yum!

  7. Delicious as usual Marie - This is one of my favourites. It is amazing that you found Jacket Potatoes so exotic - I love to hear about your first experiences in UK. Are you fully settled here now? I am sure you still miss Canada. Lucie x

  8. I could live on jacket potatoes! Love the chilli you added Marie.

  9. Hi Marie, I definitely would not mind one of these right now! You should try the karate chop, though, good tip!

  10. That looks amazing and so delicious! I am fairly new to your blog, but I love it all so far!

  11. Marie This is absolutely amazing and nice, live it. Send you huggs and kisses to you and Todd. (I was with my son sick (a virus) and for this only right now Im visit my friends blogs) huggs

  12. Great minds alike, you and Jo, thats what she cooked herself for lunch, she had her's with tuna and cheese (another weird combo) You chilli looked nice tho..yum

  13. Ahhh...the perfect potato! Love your photos!

  14. Marie I heard about the alot of snow in England are you and Todd well?? They say is the most hard winter in 50 years, take care, huggs gloria

  15. My family loves baked potatoes for dinner! We usually have steamed broccoli, shredded cheddar, bits of fried bacon- NOT to be confused with bacon bits :|- sour cream, dried chives (because they're always in the pantry) and lashings of butter and salt and pepper. I always think I should do them with leftover chili but never do.

    I find it interesting that the English are big on coleslaw. I never knew that. What is slaw like there? We're in the southeastern US and folks here put slaw on EVERYTHING. Some folks like it sweet (we do, being not actual Southerners), many love it quite savory, along with their pulled pork, buttermilk cornbread (also not sweet) and baked beans.

    Love your blog and am always interested in your Canadian perspective on life in the UK. And your amazing recipes :D I also love your music (saw Ben Folds throw his piano stool at his piano in concert once in college :D)

  16. These were our first meal in Edinburgh and my son still eats them with baked beans two years after our trip to Britain. We never did try the tuna or coleslaw. Love your blog and your music.

  17. Yea!
    any way to kick up some potatoes...
    I want to try this recipe and kick it up a little!
    I like it that way!

  18. Jacket spuds are my fave meal of all time ;0) These sound wonderful.

  19. Jackets and chilli are my very favourite Marie, comfort food at it's best.....especailly in the weather we're having right now! ~~~Love, Pat x


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