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Subject: Baked Potato Redux (long)
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking

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From: Curt Nelson 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 10:42:31 -0800
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So I've continued my baked potato experiments and have reached a conclusion. 
There is no substitute for the real thing and there are no shortcuts.

Last night I borrowed a toaster oven from a buddy and used olive oil on the 
spud instead of my usual butter-flavored Crisco and the results were hugely 
underwhelming. Spud wasn't fluffy at all and the olive oil resulted in a 
sort of crisp skin. In retrospect, the toaster oven just wasn't enough of a 
heat sink and the thermometer caused the heat to fluctuate too much.

I've decided the secret is the pizza stone in my oven.

Whenever I do a real baked potato for someone, they always say it's the best 
damn potato they've ever had. The pizza stone is a huge heat sink and it 
keeps the oven temperature from fluctuating very much, resulting in a 
ridiculously fluffy and crisp potato.

So here's my technique:

1) Have a pizza stone in your oven and preheat it well to 375 or 400.
2) Poke some holes into the spud to let steam escape.
3) Grease it up with Crisco. For whatever reason, olive oil doesn't seem to 
work as well.
4) Sprinkle it with a large-crystal non-iodized salt, kosher or sea salt.
5) Put the damn thing directly on the oven rack (no tinfoil!) for about an 
hour, depending on size and quantity.
6) Pop it open and enjoy.

I'm sure some of you will no doubt say, "Duh, Einstein!" but I had to screw 
it up for myself. For me, there are no shortcuts, not even the microwave 
one. The convection oven/microwave combo didn't work at all and the toaster 
oven pretty much sucked. I'm going back to my old (long) way of doing it and 
back to fluffy, crisp-skinned spuds.

Hasta,
Curt Nelson 

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From: Steve Y 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 20:05:56 +0100
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My favourite way is to do (nearly) what I did as a kid and to cook the 
spuds (wrapped in foil)  directly in our wood burning stove.  Depending 
on the size of the spud and the heat of the fire, they take from 30 to 
45 mins.

Steve

PS When I was I kid , they would be in the ash pan underneath the fire 
but wouldn't be wrapped. Either the whole thing, skins and all, got eaten

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From: Sharkman[at]comcast.net
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 06:39:57 -0500
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When I was a kid living in Coney Island, we used to bury the "mickeys" in 
the sand on the beach and build a fire over them. Wait a goodly amount of 
time, dig them out clean them off and feast on them...

ahh youth
sharkman

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From: Goomba38 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 17:00:48 -0500
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Curt Nelson wrote:
> 3) Grease it up with Crisco. For whatever reason, olive oil doesn't seem to 
> work as well.

You can get a perfectly crispy skin without ANY oil also. I've never 
oiled my baked potatoes.. can't see the point of it.

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From: Mr Libido Incognito 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 22:11:18 GMT
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Goomba38 wrote:
> You can get a perfectly crispy skin without ANY oil also. I've never 
> oiled my baked potatoes.. can't see the point of it.

holds the salt on.

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From: Goomba38 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 17:33:32 -0500
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Mr Libido Incognito wrote:
> holds the salt on.

I put my salt on the inside, lol.

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From: Mr Libido Incognito 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 22:58:31 GMT
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Goomba38 wrote:
> I put my salt on the inside, lol.

I find a seasoned skin is a god thing. I've also found that in some cases 
salt added before or during cooking makes a big difference that salt after 
cooking doesn't accomplish.

So I season my oiled skins and season my baked spuds at the table as well.

Now on to important stuff....do you use butter and sour cream or just 
butter or what do you use?

I prefer to scoop out my crispy skins mix my more crushed than mashed 
potato inerds with carmelized onions crumbled bacon and cheese and  return 
to oven till the cheese is bubbly then butter  and salt and pepper at the 
table.

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From: Goomba38 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 20:09:04 -0500
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Mr Libido Incognito wrote:

> I find a seasoned skin is a god thing. I've also found that in some cases 
> salt added before or during cooking makes a big difference that salt after 
> cooking doesn't accomplish.

Absolutely. RFC has had this discussion in the not too distant past. 
Salting foods before cooking is totally different than after. But I've 
never considered baked potatoes in that category? I guess I'll have to 
try it sometime?
 
> So I season my oiled skins and season my baked spuds at the table as well.
> 
> Now on to important stuff....do you use butter and sour cream or just 
> butter or what do you use?

I grew up using just real butter, salt and lots of cracked pepper. 
Nowadays I do enjoy sour cream on them because I seem to always have 
some hanging out in the fridge. My mother never seemed to keep the stuff 
around so hence we didn't use it.
 
> I prefer to scoop out my crispy skins mix my more crushed than mashed 
> potato inerds with carmelized onions crumbled bacon and cheese and  return 
> to oven till the cheese is bubbly then butter  and salt and pepper at the 
> table.

Lordie that sounds good. I love caramelized onions.
My mother would let us starving kids scoop out the innerds of the potato 
(onto our plates) while she did last minute dinner prep, and we we 
allowed to butter and S&P the skin and enjoy the skins while they were 
still crispy and hot as soon as we came to the table. Even before saying 
grace . This was a great treat for us. She thought that letting 
the skins cool down or get soggy was a cullinary waste.  We were eating 
potato skins as an "appetizer" long before anyone else heard of them, lol.

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From: Mr Libido Incognito 
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 01:26:39 GMT
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Use a little butter and cream when you smash the potatoes...chopped cooked 
mushrooms added is nice too...Loads of black pepper as well. (After 
Thoughts)

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From: "John Kane" 
Date: 22 Feb 2007 17:27:49 -0800
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Goomba38 wrote:
>   We were eating
> potato skins as an "appetizer" long before anyone else heard of them, lol.

Well that would depend on just how old you are since we were doing the
same thing way back when. :)  Lots and lots of butter 1

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From: little.malice[at]gmail.com (Little Malice)
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 22:04:58 GMT
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Curt Nelson wrote:

>So I've continued my baked potato experiments and have reached a conclusion. 
>There is no substitute for the real thing and there are no shortcuts.



>I'm sure some of you will no doubt say, "Duh, Einstein!" but I had to screw 
>it up for myself. For me, there are no shortcuts, not even the microwave 
>one. The convection oven/microwave combo didn't work at all and the toaster 
>oven pretty much sucked. I'm going back to my old (long) way of doing it and 
>back to fluffy, crisp-skinned spuds.

The thing is that the "real thing" varies from person to person. I
like *very* crispy skins on my spuds, so I don't rub them with any 
kind of oil (although my mother always used Crisco). And rather than 
poke holes, I use a potato nail. I don't think my version is any more
right than yours, just different...

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From: Curt Nelson 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 16:24:44 -0800
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Little Malice wrote:
> The thing is that the "real thing" varies from person to person. I
> like *very* crispy skins on my spuds, so I don't rub them with any
> kind of oil (although my mother always used Crisco). And rather than
> poke holes, I use a potato nail. I don't think my version is any more
> right than yours, just different...

Absolutely.

Enjoy!

:-) 


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