In Search of the Perfect Jacket Potato (Baked Potato)

Monday 17 September 2012

I love potatoes.  They are my favourite vegetable.  I could live without chocolate.  I could live without cake.  I could live without cookies . . . I could not ever live without potatoes.  Oh sure, I've tried low carb . . . but the potato is my downfall every time.  I just can't get on for very long without them!

I like em steamed.  I like em mashed.  I like em fried.  I like em roasted.  I like em hot.  I like em cold.  I even like em raw . . . but the way that I like em most of all . . . is baked!

You just can't beat a good baked potato.  Rough on the outside, crisp even . . . and explodingly fluffy on the insides.  Big and fat and round . . .  and eaten so hot that you have to blow on every forkful you bring to your mouth . . . you just can't wait for them to cool down . . . you have to eat them NOW!

Not just any potato will do.  You don't want a waxy potato.  (A waxy potato is perfect for potato salad because it holds up it's shape in cooking.)  You want a nice fluffy potato, big and round . . . like a King Edward or Maris Piper, or in North America . . .  a Russet.

You can't hurry a baked potato.  It's not something you can rush.  The perfect baked potato takes a long slow roasting in a hot oven.  Some people like to wrap them in foil.  Foil wrapped baked potato = soggy icky baked potato.  Some people like to wet them and roll them in salt.  That works quite well I suppose.    Some people like them rubbed with oil, or with butter before they are baked.

Me???  I just wash em, and prick them all over (a necessity unless you want to be clearing off exploded bits of baked potato from all over the insides of your oven) and then I lay them in the hot oven right on the rack.  No pan.  No foil.  Just hot air wrapping itself around that potato and baking it until it is crispy and nutty on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  In short perfect!

Don't cut into your baked potato . . . that only mashes the potato together and compacts it.  Nigel Slater swears by the Karate Chop!  (And you know how much I love Nigel Slater!)  He recommends just a llight sharp tap on the side of the potato, like a karate chop . . . not so hard that you smash the potato to smithereens . . . just hard enough to slightly crack open the potato and let all the air out in a whoosh, leaving behind a tasty fluffy pile of snowy potato, just begging for a big pat of butter and your fork!

A steak is not a steak without a baked potato on the side, but a good baked potato deserves so much more than to be merely an accessory to the main course . . . a good baked potato is like having a blank canvas that you can paint a most beautiful picture on.  It can be the whole meal and for me it often is.
  • With tasty Baked Beans ladled on top and lotsa lotsa cheese. 
  • Topped with scrummy coleslaw, or tuna salad, or both!
  • Lotsa cheddar cheese and lashings of crispy bacon
  • a bit slab of goats cheese, or even better . . . some tasty Brie!
  • With a Meaty Bolognaise Sauce ladled over top, or the best . . . Chili And Cheese!
  • Bits of steamed broccoli and cauliflower and then a tasty cheese sauce ladled over top
  • Leeks braised in butter with lots of grated Fontina cheese
To get the perfect baked potato, just follow these basic rules.  Pick a floury potato (Maris Piper, King Edward, Russet).  Wash and prick all over with a fork.  Bake right on the rack of a hot oven, 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6, for about an hour or so depending on the size of your potato.  Give it a light karate chop before eating.  Spoon on the butter and eat up right away!

Baked Potatoes with Rocket, Broad Beans and Blue Cheese.

Jacket Potatoes with Chili and Cheese

Rarebit Jacket Potatoes

Baked Potato Pizza

Jacket Potatoes with Cream and Walnuts

So what are you waiting for???  Grab a potato and start baking!!

Note:  If you click on the recipe name at the bottom of each photo, it will take you to a link for that recipe, which will open in a new window!  (Ahh, the beauty of modern technology . . . just wonderful!)


  1. There is nothing better than a baked potato! I just got Nigel's cookbook, Ripe, and am in love!!

  2. Kate, you just gotta love Nigel. He cooks like I want to eat! That series is called Tender over here. I have both volumes and his newest book, Kitchen Diaries 2 is due to make it's way through my post box any day now! I can't wait!!

  3. These look good, just the sort of food we want as the weather changes. I particularly like the look of the one with blue cheese, rocket and broad beans.

  4. Wow! All I did last night was bake mine.

  5. Thank you for letting me know what the equivalent of the King Edward is here in the US. When I try to explain to people what kind of potato I want here, I get blank looks. Finally, I can do jacket potatoes and roast potatoes (in goose fat!) with confidence. Thank you, thank you!

    And the hint about smashing the potato open? I love that.

  6. My current favourite side dish to baked potato . . . saute 1 carrot, 1 onion & 1 stick celery all finely chopped, in rapeseed oil, then add in chicken stock cube, tomato puree, chilli paste and hot water to make a sauce, add in quorn or other veggie type thing, simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with potato, serious lump of butter and garden peas.


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