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Subject: Baking Potato:Endangered Species?
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking

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From: ax386[at]chebucto.ns.ca (Bob Ashley)
Date: 3 Jul 1998 13:05:30 GMT
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Spud Kings & Queens!

My question is probably contingent of geographic locale. But maybe not.

The last time I had a really truly scrumptious, beyond perfect, baked
potato was at a steak house on island of Kwai in the Hawaiin islands, of
all places. 

The skin's the thing. Seeming a multi-layered skin, all the layers adding
up to fairly hefty total overall skin. The texture of the skin is slightly
leathery, offering up just the right amount of resistance and lending a
feeling of substance in the chewing. 

I have not seen, smelled, tasted, such a baked potato since. Those offered
at the grocery stores are weak, thinned-skinned varieties, lacking the
required OOOMPH!. 

What kind of potatoes do those fabulous steak places insist on? Does
anyone know the name and whereabouts of the ULTIMATE baked potato? 


Starched with yearning,

Bob Ashley

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From: brawny[at]mindspring.com (Bill)
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 13:37:00 GMT
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Bob Ashley wrote:
>The last time I had a really truly scrumptious, beyond perfect, baked
>potato was at a steak house on island of Kwai in the Hawaiin islands,

Was it imported...since I don't believe that potatoes are grown in Hawaii....  

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From: mouse.news[at]mousetrap.net (jason carr)
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 15:27:09 GMT
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>What kind of potatoes do those fabulous steak places insist on? Does
>anyone know the name and whereabouts of the ULTIMATE baked potato? 

I dunno if I can shed any light, but I'll throw in my own anecdotal
info:

I usually don't care what potato I cook with[0], I just get whatever
mondo bag 'o taters is on sale or whatever.

One day, however, I was at the local Whole Foods Market[1] and grabbed
a couple of large, shapely bakers from their organic potato bin.  I
thought gf would enjoy something different.  Besides, I'm curious.

These two were the best potatoes I've ever eaten:  firm, creamy[2],
rich, wonderful.  

It may be worth trying on your end, at least once.  

jc

[0] I usually can't tell the difference. Perhaps my tater tastebuds
are deficient.  

[1] a luxury outing for me, as it tends to be $$$.

[2] for want of a better word.  I usually bathe my bakers in sour
cream and other frills, but this one I ate "right outta the box".

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From: penmart10[at]aol.com (Sheldon)
Date: 03 Jul 1998 17:21:03 GMT
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>What kind of potatoes do those fabulous steak places insist on? Does
>anyone know the name and whereabouts of the ULTIMATE baked potato? 

Try to locate "Chef's Grade" Russets.  They are specially grown (disease free)
very large potatoes (typically 1/2 pound each), hand sorted for optimal shape,
have very few eyes, and are NOT machine handled, so there are no bruises. 
Wholesale restaurant suppliers carry them, but they typically come in 100 pound
sacks (paper, not plastic), so you may want to share with a neighbor or two. 
Potatoes stored in plastic bags tend to ferment, and the subtle potatoey flavor
is compromised.

There are other methods, but the optimum baked potato is washed/scrubbed,
air-dried until skin is totally dry, never oiled or wrapped in foil, [fork
pricked], placed directly onto *center* oven grate, never on a pan, and baked
for exactly one (1) hour at 375° F, no more, no less for 1/3 - 1/2 pounders.

To learn more, go here---->http://www.potatonet.com/index2.htm

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From: sue[at]interport.net (Curly Sue)
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 19:01:31 GMT
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Sheldon wrote:
> and are NOT machine handled, so there are no bruises. 

I haven't run across potatoes with bruises, but I've noticed lately
that many, many potatoes now have curved cuts in them as though they
were stabbed all over with a spoon.  I assume this is the result of
some type of new potato handling machine.  It's really annoying.

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From: penmart10[at]aol.com (Sheldon)
Date: 03 Jul 1998 19:52:43 GMT
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Curly Sue writes:
> but I've noticed lately
>that many, many potatoes now have curved cuts in them as though they
>were stabbed all over with a spoon.  I assume this is the result of
>some type of new potato handling machine.

Yep, machine handling, probably cuts from some grotesque conveyer belt system. 
Cuts (lacerations), bruises, and contusions... when you see cuts, there are
usually bruises and contusions too, though not nearly as noticable by humans,
but other potatoes notice the abuse more readily, after all, look at all them
eyes! ;)  

More often of late, you'll see spuds sporting shades. 

Sometimes yer better off choosing from the loose tater trollops spud bin. 

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From: rdyoung[at]wcc.net (Bob Y.)
Date: Sat, 04 Jul 1998 16:59:14 GMT
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Sheldon wrote:
>Try to locate "Chef's Grade" Russets. 

Sheldon—just when everyone starts thinking you are beyond redemption, you come
up with a jewel like this. If there is one thing about restaurant food, it is
the "baked" potato in foil. If I had wanted a steamed potato, I would have
ordered one!

Of course if you go to a good restaraunt they'll make them properly. Barring
that, if you are a good customer, they will do it properly for you while still
serving the tourists the aluminum eggs.

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From: Robin Cowdrey <rcowdrey[at]telusplanet.net>
Date: Sun, 05 Jul 1998 20:36:43 -0600
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Bob Y. wrote:
> Of course if you go to a good restaraunt they'll make them properly. Barring
> that, if you are a good customer, they will do it properly for you while still
> serving the tourists the aluminum eggs.

The restaurants do it because taters in foil will hold forever, I
assume. Unfortunately many of their customers came to believe this was
the smart thing to do.  Many years ago, when I first came to Edmonton,
the person that I replaced asked me over for a steak dinner.  On the way
to his home we got to talking about food and I mentioned my aversion to
foil-wrapped spuds.  When we arrived at his home the first thing his
wife said was that she had put the potatoes in the oven.  There was a
whispered conference in the kitchen followed by an opening and closing
of the oven door.  Sure enough, out came a bowl of crispy skinned
potatoes.

I always eat the skin.  I learned the oiling trick years ago.  Nowadays
I give them a spray with Pam or olive oil spray which is now available
here.

The Norlands I have in the garden have just started blooming so will be
in the pot very soon.

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From: penmart10[at]aol.com (Sheldon)
Date: 06 Jul 1998 03:02:04 GMT
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Robin Cowdrey wrote:
>I always eat the skin.  I learned the oiling trick years ago. 

Not really, oiling the skin has exactly the opposite affect.

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From: tblackmer[at]nwu.edu (t r i l l i u m)
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 18:12:13 GMT
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Try an organic russet.  The varieties grown organically tend to have thicker 
skins and I do think they taste better.  To me, potatoes grown in a good soil 
have much more flavor than those grown in stripped out soil.  The best are the 
ones you buy in the farmer's market in the fall (just new potatoes right now, 
no bakers) that still have a bit of dirt crusted on them and flaky thick 
skins to die for.

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From: alzelt[at]aol.com (alan)
Date: 03 Jul 1998 18:56:43 GMT
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well, Bob, perhaps it is local pride, but i think the super spuds from WA and
ID should fill your cravings. and here is an alternative way to make potatoes
say:yum. Scrub one huge spud. cut lengthwise into eight wedges. place in baking
dish. add one cup of chicken broth. sprinkle on Old Bay season. place in oven
and bake at 350F until liquid is absorbed, and potatoes start to brown(about 40
minutes). 

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From: Louis Hlavenka <bluebirdmediocrity[at]mvtel.net>
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 21:59:16 -0500
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It has more to do with how you bake it.  For what you described just wash the
potato, oil it lightly and bake.   Then enjoy.  Lou Hlavenka

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From: Beth R. Jarvis <jarvi013[at]gold.tc.umn.edu>
Date: Sat, 4 Jul 98 01:02:37 CDT
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I've noticed more of the cuts that Curley Sue mentions on Idaho spuds.
Our Minnesota-grown spuds are free of cuts and bruises &amp; cheaper.  I 
might be my imagination, but the local spuds also seem more likely to 
be free of black scurf, that black "dirt" that doesn't wash off.  The 
black spots are the sclerotia (resting spores) of a fungal disease 
called Rhizoctonia.

Heck, if I can get 'taters that look pretty, bake or mash well, are 
disease free and are grown within 40 miles of my kitchen,  I'm buying!
But, this year, I'm raising my own Russian Fingerlings, Yukon Golds 
and a couple others.  And they're blooming!  That means they're 
setting tubers as we speak! <g>

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From: exeH[at]citde.net (Hexe)
Date: Sat, 04 Jul 1998 18:08:53 GMT
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>What kind of potatoes do those fabulous steak places insist on? Does
>anyone know the name and whereabouts of the ULTIMATE baked potato? 

it might not be the potato itself but the way it is baked.  i
have never had potatoes equal to my mother's.  what she did was
to smear bacon drippings (if available, if not Crisco) into the
palms of her hands and then thoroughly rub it all over the clean
dry potato.  the skin was just as you describe.  i know how she
did it but mine never taste as good as i remember hers tasting.

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From: Tiff <tiffanyg9[at]hotmail.com>
Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 03:28:56 GMT
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The BEST baked potato I've ever had was in Sullivan's Bar in Laurel, MD.  
It took up the whole plate!  They also roll the taters in some sort of 
garlic and rock salt mixture before they bake them.  I tried to get the 
waitress to tell me what kind of potato it was but she wouldn't spill.  
Maybe with the right bribery...

It's an entire lunch for me, and for $3.15, it can't be beat. 'Specially 
when it's accompanied by a nice cold beer.


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