Baking

Preparing baked potatoes is a simple procedure that is widely misunderstood and needlessly complicated. Properly baked potatoes are white, fluffy, mealy, and steamy. Poorly baked potatoes,unfortunately common,are gray and soggy.

Russet potatoes are most often used for baked potatoes. However, many varieties are now available on the market, some of which are excellent for baking and yield different flavors and textures. Don't be afraid to experiment with some of the varieties listed on pages 583-584.

rocedure for Baking Potatoes

1. For standard baked potatoes, select russets or other regularly shaped starchy potatoes.

2. Scrub well and pierce the ends with a fork or skewer so steam can escape.

3. For crisp skins, rub lightly with oil. For more tender skins, leave dry.

4. Place on sheet pans or on sheet pan racks in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven and bake until done, about 1 hour. To test doneness, squeeze gently. Done potatoes yield to gentle pressure.

Note: Using sheet pan racks eliminates the hard spot that forms where the potato is in contact with the sheet pan.

5. Remove from oven.

6. To hold for service, keep warm and uncovered so the potatoes will not be made soggy by trapped steam. Hold no more than 1 hour, if possible, though they will keep longer with some loss of quality. Note that nothing was said about wrapping potatoes in foil. Foil-wrapped potatoes do not bake but rather steam in their own moisture. The texture of a steamed potato is entirely different from that of a baked potato. Save yourself the trouble and expense of wrapping in foil and serve a better product.

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