I love a good baked potato. The operative word here is ‘good’.

Living in Hawaii, where rice is king of the starches, it is difficult to find good potatoes. First of all by the time they are shipped to Hawaii, they aren’t exactly fresh.

I used to have friends in Idaho. They had a potato farm and when they came to visit, they always brought fresh potatoes. Wow! Those were the days.

I have found that the very best potatoes are from Costco. Unfortunately these only come in a twenty pound bag. However, they are only 55 cents a pound (as opposed to 99 cents a pound in the market).

So for $10.99 you get a bag of huge restaurant quality potatoes. As each one weighs over a pound, there are about fifteen potatoes in each bag.

Costco potato compared to a Fuji apple

Now if that seems like a lot of potatoes, you have several choices. One, you could go on the potato diet where you only eat potatoes and water for four days. (no butter or salt, please) Or you could split a bag with a friend or neighbor.

If you do split a bag, here is what you do. While the bag is still in your car trunk, open it and remove seven of the potatoes. Put these in another sack. Then you only have to lug ten pounds of potatoes into your house and your friend can transfer the sack directly to his or her car.

Or, you could make a lot of potatoes for a couple of weeks.

Whatever you do, put an apple in the bag, as this will keep the potatoes from sprouting. And never put potatoes in the fridge as the starch will turn to sugar.

Also, never put potatoes and onions together as they will spoil.

OK> now that we have that part down, it is time to start cooking. Take a couple of potatoes and scrub with a vegetable brush, rinse and dry.

These are large, so one could be sliced in half lenghwise to serve two. Or not. (just don’t do any slicing until after potato is fully baked)

If you like your skin dry, leave naked. If you like a moist shiny skin, then rub with olive oil. And if you like garlic, rub a clove all over the oil. If you want it to look fancy, you could wrap the potato in aluminum foil. (Prick the foil/skin in a few places to release the steam).

Whatever you do, right after the washing part, prick the skin in several places to release the steam while it bakes. I forgot to do this once and the potato exploded in my oven. What a mess!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you are baking a large potato, spear it with a fork. Leave this in while baking and it will cook the center of the potato evenly. It is also a good handle for removing the potato from the oven. Just be sure to use two potholders for this part.

(And of course use a stainless steel fork and not one with a plastic handle).

I like to bake large potatoes for nearly two hours, but less is probably OK.

Now for baked potatoes you can either serve plain with butter/salt/pepper, or loaded with sour cream, chopped bacon, chives, and parmesan cheese.

I like to make twice baked potatoes. For this you either slice in half or if you are using the whole potato for one person, just slice off the top. Scoop out the ‘meat, leaving a hollow shell.

Now mash with a fork and add butter, mayo, a dash of milk, salt, pepper and mash again. Fill shells with mixture, top with cheese and broil for a couple of minutes until cheese melts and is browned.

You can add chopped green onions to the mixture or bacon bits. Velveeta is probably the best melting cheese, but Kraft American will do. Actually any cheese you like is just fine.

And if for some reason you don’t want to use cheese, the potatoes will brown under the broiler just fine. If you want to be very ‘Martha Stewart’ you can pipe the mashed potatoes into the shells with a pastry bag. I just use a big spoon.

These potato halves freeze well, so if you want to make a lot and freeze some for another time, it doesn’t take any longer to bake six or eight potatoes, rather than one or two.

If your family doesn’t like baked potatoes, just make mashed potatoes out of the insides, cut the skins into wedges and make baked potato skins.

These are easy. Just brush skins with melted butter, pepper, cheese and chopped bacon if you like and broil a few minutes.

If you think this is to rich for your blood, you can always just serve the potato with a little ‘Can’t believe it’s not Butter’ and top with some steamed brocolli.

To make this really delicious, you really should pour some cheese sauce over the brocolli. This makes a very good supper.

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