If you've read my last few entries, you will know that I am currently on a bit of a mission, trying to push my boundaries and take chances in the kitchen as frequently as I possibly can. I've already had a few ups and downs in the process, but the more I cook and push myself, the more I learn how to avoid those "downs". So far from what I've learned, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to start with the basics and build from there. Look at a recipe that you may find intimidating and break it down into parts. Take it each part of the recipe and learn to execute it in the most simple and effective way. Once you've done that, I promise you your confidence will skyrocket, and you'll feel ready to take that recipe further and begin experimenting on your own.
To help you get to that skyrocketing confidence, I'm starting a series on Ginger Rose on kitchen basics. I want to feature basic recipes and techniques that I think are essential for any cook to know, and break them down to show you the simplest and most effective way to execute it. From here I'll provide tips and tricks to help you take that basic recipe and begin experimenting on your own!
To begin the series, I want us to focus our attention on one of the tastiest and definitely most comforting vegetables, the potato. I've been baking, frying, and boiling potatoes for years, but in all those years I had never bothered to research the absolute best way to make the perfect baked potato. So here you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect baked potato!
- In order to make the perfect baked potato, you must choose the perfect baking potato. You are looking for a white and starchy potato here, you may either use the ones in the grocery store specifically marked as "baking potatoes" or look for any type of Russet Potato
- Inspect your potatoes and pick ones that are firm and free of sprouts
- Choose medium-large potatoes, depending on how big your meal is
- Make sure all your potatoes are all the same size so they all bake at the same speed
- Wash and scrub your potatoes to remove any excess dirt
- Using a fork, poke holes in your potatoes, about every inch or so, to allow steam to vent. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP or else you will have a potato explosion
- Using clean hands, rub your potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. This will help to create a tasty and tender skin. This is important because most of the potatoes nutrients lies just below the skin, so you want to encourage your diners to eat it!
- Preheat oven to 325º
- Place prepped potatoes directly on oven rack
- Bake for about 90 minutes, or until potato is tender
- To check for doneness, pierce potato with a knife, if there is little resistance and potato feels soft, it is done
- Remove potatoes from oven, and serve!
There are many different toppings and mix-ins that are fantastic to add to a baked potato and can easily turn your simple side dish into something really special! You can even set up a potato topping bar at your next dinner party! Here are some suggestions:
- salt & pepper
- sour cream
- cheese (grate hard cheeses and cut soft cheeses into little bits to allow to melt on top)
- fresh herbs (chives, mint, basil, parsley, lemon balm, rosemary)
- black beans
- cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
- caramelized onions
- green onions
- steamed broccoli
- green peas
- sauteed mushrooms
Jimi Hendrix - Foxey Lady
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