I'll cover the two basic methods for baking a potato here: the oven method and the microwave method. What's the difference between baking a potato in the oven and baking it in the microwave? Well, I find that the oven method produces a prettier and much more flavorful baked potato, whereas the microwave method produces a potato with a more wrinkly skin and blander flavor. Hence, I say, the oven method for the win.
Here are the things you'll start with regardless of which method you're going by...
- olive oil
- salt to taste
- desired toppings
Russet potatoes work best, but Yukon gold potatoes are my personal favorite. Just be sure to inspect the potatoes thoroughly for green spots before you begin. (Potatoes like this will make you sick. Period.) Then, remove any little sprouts you see, and clean the potatoes thoroughly with cold water. Dry them completely.
HOW TO BAKE A POTATO: THE OVEN METHOD
- Pierce each potato about four times with a fork. Don't skip this! Otherwise the potatoes might explode.
- Lightly coat the potatoes in olive oil and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with salt. This makes the skin extra soft and easy to eat. (Foil does this as well, but if you wrap the potato in foil, you're technically steaming it. Um...that's not baking.)
- Bake the potatoes at 400°F for about 45 minutes. Be sure to turn them over halfway through baking.
- The potatoes are done when they have an internal temperature of 210°F, or when they give in slightly upon squeezing them (using a potholder, of course.)
- Note: The temperature and time can be adjusted to fit with other things you may be baking in the oven at the same time. Generally, increase the time by 15 to 30 minutes for every 25 degrees less you go. The lower the temperature, the softer the skin will be.
- Pierce each potato about four times with a fork. Again, don't skip this!
- Lightly coat the potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Then wrap each potato loosely in a paper towel.
- If you're baking more than one potato at a time, arrange them on a plate around the outer rim.
- Microwave the potatoes on high for 5 minutes. Then turn them over, and microwave them on high for another 2 to 5 minutes.
- The size and number of potatoes you bake will influence cooking time. You can know your potatoes are done if they give in slightly when squeezing them.
HERE, HAVE SOME TOPPING IDEAS.
- sour cream + chives
- bacon pieces
- shredded cheese
- roasted vegetables
- caramelized onions
- corn + black beans + cilantro