Monday, October 28, 2013

Tips for Baking the Perfect Idaho Potato

I did most of my growing up in SE Idaho.  I know this post is a little late in the season... all the potato harvesting is done by now but this fall weather is perfect time for baking potatoes (especially to go with a meatloaf...).  I am kind of a potato nazi;  I can't stand a poorly baked potato, and I always eat my potato skins!  That's where all the fiber and protein is.

Tips for Baking the Perfect Potato: (much of this info I gleaned from a random un-cited handout but some of it I know is from the Idaho Potato Commission)
Never bake Idaho potatoes in aluminum foil.  Foil seals in the moisture and steams the potato, making the texture pasty instead of dry and fluffy.  Aluminum foil can be applied after baking, however, to hold the serving temperature longer. 
Scrub the potatoes well, and dry them thoroughly.  Prick with a fork in a few well placed spots (or try rubbing the potato with oil before baking, instead of pricking the skins).  This allows the steam to escape.  Medium sized potatoes should be baked in a 425 degree oven for 55 to 65 minutes or baked in a 350 degree oven for one hour and 25 to 35 minutes.  Higher heat gives darker, crisper, skins with fluffier interiors.  Potatoes are done when a fork slips easily in and out.
 Becoming a connoisseur: You can tell an Idaho potato connoisseur because he or she will never open a baked potato with a knife.  Instead, the connoisseur will poke a zigzag pattern into the top of the potato with a fork, then will press the ends of the potato together to open or "blossom" the potato.  The connoisseur recognizes that the blade of the knife flattens the surface and alters the fluffy texture of the properly prepared Idaho potato.

Celebrate Spud harvest by making delicious perfectly baked potatoes!

PS-If you ever get the chance visit Shelley, ID about the 3rd Saturday in September for the Annual Spud Day!  They serve free baked potatoes with a milk box, and you can watch people do a tug of war over a giant pit of mashed potatoes (plus all sorts of entertainment, a parade, contests, good food and vendors).

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