The Secret to Better Baked Potatoes? Cook Them Like the British Do

Baked Potatoes

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

By Sheela Prakash    thekitchn.com

If you jump across the pond to England, you’ll find baked potatoes just about everywhere, but you might not recognize them at first. That’s because they’re called jacket potatoes (which, TBH, is just about the cutest name there could be).

The difference isn’t just the name, however. The Brits take great care when it comes to their potatoes — and the results really are much crispier on the outside and fluffier on the inside than the typical American variety. A few years back, Joanna Goddard, of Cup of Jo, called out just how gloriously perfect English baked potatoes are and shared some tricks, straight from her aunt in Cornwall. Ever since trying them, my baked potato game has gotten a lot better.

Read the post: How to Make English Jacket Potatoes from Cup of Jo

Making baked potatoes isn’t difficult, but here are the tips that made the most difference.

  1. Slice them first. Like most Americans, I typically poke holes all over the potatoes before baking them to ensure they don’t explode in the oven. But Jo suggests slicing a cross shape about 1/4-inch thick into each potato. This helps them release some steam, makes the interior more fluffy, and also makes them easier to slice into when they’re piping hot.
  2. Bake them for longer than you think. Many recipes (ours included) recommend baking potatoes for an hour at 425°F. Instead, Jo suggests baking potatoes at 400°F for closer to two hours. The potatoes won’t burn at this temperature and the long bake means the skin will be so crisp that it’s practically cracker-like.
  3. Return them to the oven. After the two hours are up, remove the potatoes and carefully cut deeper into the slices you made initially. Then put the potatoes back in the oven for 10 more minutes. This helps to dry out the flesh further and makes it extra fluffy.

When you take those piping hot spuds out of the oven, push open that crispy, crackly, perfectly-salted skin, and drop a little butter into the lightest, fluffiest baked potato you’ve ever made, you’ll silently thank Jo and her Cornwall aunt. And you’ll know — as I now do — there’s really no other way to bake them.


The 7 Biggest Mistakes You Make When Baking Potatoes

Baked Potatoes

By Kimberly Holland

All the ways you tank your ‘taters’

Baked potatoes sit atop the mountain of comfort foods. With a fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth interior and a crispy, salty skin, a perfect baked potato is a thing of beauty.

But for many people, the dream of the ideal oven-baked potato sits just out of reach. What should seem easy — baking a potato in a hot oven — can, and often does, return mixed results: gummy centers, slightly charred skins, or slippery, soggy skins.

No one will say they’re not edible, but could they be better? Yes. And if the steps to make them better are remarkably easy, there’s no reason to suffer sad, shriveled baked potatoes anymore.

Read on to see if you’re committing the 7 deadly sins against baked potatoes, and learn simple tips you can follow to make your next batch of oven-baked potatoes perfect.

1. You don’t dry the potato well.

You should certainly rinse the potatoes — we prefer russets — to remove any dirt and debris. You can even give them a quick scrub with a vegetable brush. But you need to dry the spuds well after the bath. Excess moisture on the skin can seep into the potato during baking and cause soggy skins.

Do be sure to prick a few holes into the skin, too. While the potato is unlikely to explode in the oven, no one is here to take risks with dinner. Err on the side of caution.

2. You wrap the potato in foil.

Don’t be ashamed if you do this — many cooks believe it to be the key to the perfect baked potato. But turns out you’re ruining the skin if you do this.

The ideal baked potato skin relies on a certain amount of dehydration and rehydration — we’ll get to that. If you bake in foil, all the moisture from the potato just circles back into the potato skin, which can leave you with a sad state of skin.

No, once you’ve washed and dried the potatoes, leave them be. No wrapping.

3. You don’t use a wire rack under the potatoes.

Potatoes need to cook all the way through, and the best way for that to happen is to make sure the hot air can get to the potato from all sides. If a potato bakes with one side touching a sheet pan, you’ll get a hard spot and possibly uneven cooking.

Place a thin wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Line up your spuds, side by side, and place the pan into the oven. Make sure there’s a little room between each potato before closing the oven door.

4. The oven is too hot.

Low and slow—that’s the mantra of the Perfect Baked Potato. If you’ve got the time to spare, cook the potatoes at 300°F for 90 minutes. If you need to speed that up, bump it to 450°F for 45 minutes. (Note: Your baking time will vary depending on the size of your potato and how hot your oven runs.)

But don’t go hotter than that. There’s no victory in cooking potatoes at a temp greater than 450°F. They might be done a bit faster, but the high heat temp will leave you with overly browned skins that might even char in spots. And since the whole point of a perfectly baked potato is to have skins as delicious as the fluffy interior, there’s no charring allowed.

5. You don’t take the potatoes’ temperature.

You know when meat is perfectly cooked by measuring the internal temperature; the same is true for baked potatoes. Use a probe thermometer to measure the temp of your potatoes. You’re aiming for a temp in the sweet spot between 205°F and 212°F. Below that, the texture may still be too dense, and above that, it may become a gummy mess.

6. You baste first, not last.

Skip rubbing your potatoes in oil and salt until the end of the cooking time. That’s when they’ll deliver the most texture and flavor benefit for the spuds. If you oil them up early, the skins may not turn crispy. The salt, too, can run off the potatoes in the heat.

Instead, do a quick oil baste after the potatoes reach 205°F: Remove the pan from the oven. Brush with olive oil (or bacon grease if you have it) and a hefty sprinkle of kosher salt.

Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes — the temperatures of the potatoes won’t climb more than 2 or 3 degrees in that time. The oil will crisp up the skins that were dehydrated during the long bake, and the salt will add delectable flavor.

7. You let the potatoes cool before cutting.

Unlike meat, potatoes don’t get better by resting. They need to be sliced open immediately. If you don’t, they will retain water from the still-steaming center and turn dense and gummy.

Quickly jab a serrated knife through each potato as soon as the pan has cleared the oven. Give them a gentle squeeze (with a hot-temp glove or towel) to create a vent.

Then you can gather all your fixings and call the family to the table. The potatoes will have cooled just enough by the time everyone gathers around to enjoy dinner — and marvel at your perfectly baked potatoes.

About Kimberly Holland

Kimberly’s favorite hobby is grocery shopping. Her second favorite hobby is realizing she already had two of the foods she just bought. Will bake. Won’t grill. Can caramel. Find her at khollandcooks on Instagram and on Allrecipes.


Don’t Be Misled by Fad Diets

Image result for fruits and veggies

Keto, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Vegan, Vegetarian…all are belief systems.  You need tradition Nutrition, healthy mix of fats, proteins and fruits and veggies! AND plenty of herb and spices, their depth of nutrition is amazing!

I came across an article this morning that promised a 3 Day Keto Diet Plan for under $30.   You can read the article here- 

Keto On The Cheap:A 3-Day Keto Plan For Under $30. a Day

Let’s do a Nutrition Breakdown!

Day One-        Breakfast- 2 Eggs Baked in Avocado Halves

                           Lunch-         Creamed Kale

                           Dinner-       Pesto Zucchini Noodles

 

Yep, that is the whole day of food that they recommend!   Absurd!

Nutrition-   1395 calories- way too low to meet your energy or nutrient needs.

                        66% Fat-   too high!

                        12% Protein-  too low.

                        Too low in zinc, Vitamin C, drastically too low in B12, too low in B1, B2.

 

Let’s look at Day 2;     Breakfast-  fasting, no food

                                           Lunch-    4 cups roasted cauliflower with olive oil and lemon juice

                                           Dinner – 2 eggs with spinach,Kalamata olives and some nut cheese.

Nutrition;                       542 calories- absolutely ridiculous!

                                            61% fat –  too high, and most of the fat was monounsaturated fats (not healthy and will lead to sticky blood lipids)

                                            16% protein-   no where near enough!

                                            44% of needed potassium,  30% of needed fiber, 19% of needed calcium (YIKES!!), 28% of needed iron, 18% of zinc, 10% of needed Vitamin C, 72& of Vitamin D, 45% of needed Vitamin A, ALL B Vitamins were less than half of what was needed per day!

You can’t restrict calories and be healthy. Period.  You need a minimum of 1800 calories a day to meet your nutrient needs.  Each meal should include a mix of raw and cooked foods.  You need three square meals a day.  It is ok to eat only fruits and veggies for a month to do a detox, but any more than that and you will develop nutrient deficiencies.

HERE is a perfect day, nutrient and calorie wise;

Ideal Day

Breakfast;

2 whole eggs (omelet) with mushrooms, onions, peppers, fresh salsa
1 teaspoon butter
½ cup blueberries, watermelon, bananas, or fruit salad.

Midmorning- 12 ounce smoothie with lots of Baby greens (preferably microgreens) *

Lunch;

4 ounces salmon
4 cups romaine lettuce
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup onions
1/3 cup black olives
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup tomatoes
1 tablespoon walnuts
1/2 cup cucumber

Dinner;

6 ounces seafood, eggs or chicken most nights, mix it up with some other kind of meat as long as it’s totally organic! Beef once a month
1 sweet potato
2 cups spinach, Swiss chard, Beet greens, collards,
2 tablespoons onion
3 slices tomato
1 tablespoon butter
6 ounces red wine

*    Smoothie- 2 cups Smoothie (banana, blueberries, mango or pineapple, coconut water, 1 tablespoon coconut milk, lime juice, 3 cups spinach, collagen powder, vitamin c powder)


Nutrition Class with Millie Barnes in Riverside beginning January 16th!

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I am offering a 6 Weeks Nutrition Class beginning January 16th at Riverside Park United Methodist Church. We will study the basics of nutrition; how to meet your nutrient needs, how to lose weight, how to shop, eat out and many tips as to meal planning and cooking. Class is limited to 12 students, so sign up today!

I will review food diaries between classes to help you get on track.

Here is the link to register- (sign up before the 9th and get $5.00 off.   https://riversideparkumc.com/ministry/community-classes


High Blood Pressure–5 Diet Swaps to Lower your Hypertension Risk

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High blood pressure affects more than a quarter of all adults.  The condition, which is also known as hypertension, puts extra stress on blood vessels and vital organs. Making some diet or lifestyle changes could lower your chances of developing high blood pressure symptoms. These are the best foods add to your weekly shopping list, to reduce your risk of hypertension.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate, or even pomegranate juice, could slash your caches of having high blood pressure, scientists have claimed. Drinking more than a cup of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks could lower both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, they said. It’s not entirely clear what causes the drop in blood pressure, but it’s believed to be caused by its high potassium and polyphenol content. 

Beetroot

Beetroot juice could have a positive effect at reducing blood pressure, according to the University of California, Berkeley. “Beets naturally contain nitrates, which ease blood pressure,” it said.  Its comments came after a 2013 study revealed beetroot juice could reduce blood pressure just six hours after drinking. The juice had a greater effect on men than women, the scientists claimed.

Pistachios

Just one or two servings of pistachios every day could lower blood pressure, studies have revealed.  The nuts may help to dilate blood vessels, and thus, lower hypertension risk.  Dark chocolate, or other cocoa products, may help to cut hypertension risk.  “Consuming dark chocolate or cocoa products rich in flavanols was linked with some reduction in systolic or diastolic blood pressure among people with hypertension,” said Berkeley. “Other research has shown that polyphenols [especially flavanols] in cocoa products are associated with the formation of nitric oxide, a substance that widens blood vessels and eases blood flow.”

Olive oil

Olive oil could lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, researchers claimed. Women could benefit most by adding more olive oil to their diet, they revealed. Look out for olive oil with polyphenols for the biggest antihypertensive effect, said Berkeley.

Other factors;

Stay at your recommended weight.

Lower your sodium intake, avoid canned goods and processed foods.

Exercise more, stay active!

Avoid smoking and all alcohol

Stay hydrated.

Follow a diet that meets all of your nutrient needs.  You need 1800 calories a day from WHOLE FOODS!

Eliminate dairy and all grains.

Eat, vegetables abundantly, eat fruit, high quality proteins (preferably organic), nuts and seeds.


Peruvian-Style Roast Spatchcocked Chicken

I had never spatchcocked a chicken before, but simply saying the word had always amused me. But finding this recipe made me want to do so I found a Yutube video showing how to do it and IT WAS SO EASY!  I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before!  Here’s the link to show you how- How to Spatchcock a Chicken

The recipe turned out wonderful, here’s the recipe;

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Roast the chicken:

Arrange rack in middle of oven; preheat to 400°F. Mix garlic, cumin, oil, paprika, pepper, oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt, and finely grated zest from 1 lemon in a medium bowl. Quarter zested lemon; set aside 2 quarters. Squeeze juice from 1 whole lemon and remaining 2 quarters to yield 2 Tbsp. juice; stir into spice mixture.

Place chicken breast side down on work surface. Spatchcock chicken by cutting along both sides of backbone with kitchen shears. Remove backbone; reserve for stock. Turn chicken breast side up and splay open. Press down on breastbone with palms until you hear it crack and chicken is as flat as possible. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub chicken all over with 2 reserved lemon quarters. Squeeze juice over bird, then rub skin all over with inside of rinds.

From both edges of cavity, loosen skin from breasts and thighs, being careful not to tear skin. Using your fingers, gently spread 2 heaping Tbsp. spice mixture under skin (reserve remaining spice mixture), then season chicken all over with remaining 1 tsp. salt. Transfer chicken, spread flat and skin side up, to a roasting pan or large skillet.

Roast chicken 20 minutes, then brush with spice mixture and pan juices. Continue roasting, basting with spice mixture and pan juices every 20 minutes, until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a fork or an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165ºF, 50-60 minutes total.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes.


Here’s Why You Should Never Wash Chicken Before Cooking It

If you’ve always washed your chicken, it may be time to reconsider this potentially dangerous practice.

Female hands washing and cleaning chicken wings at the kitchen sink

MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN/Shutterstock

It’s the most polarizing problem in poultry—should you wash your chicken before cooking it? Food health and safety professionals are advising against this practice, as it can increase the spread of bacteria and the risk of cross-contamination. Don’t miss these other cooking mistakes that can make your food toxic.

Most people who clean their chickens think they’re washing germs or sliminess from the chicken. And while they’re correct in assuming that raw chicken is often teeming with bacteria, such as campylobacter or salmonella, washing it with water does nothing to combat this. In fact, washing your chicken actually worsens this problem, according to the UK National Health Service, because the running and splashing water can spread bacteria around sinks, countertops, and even your clothing. The USDA maintains that the only sure way to eliminate bacteria is to cook meat to the proper temperature, and these rules extend to other types of meat and fish as well. The minimum temperature of cooked chicken should be 165 degrees, and you can find the temperature for other types of meat in this table as well.

Even professional chefs have been divided on this issue. Julia Child was a staunch supporter of washing chicken, while Ina Garten more recently came out on her show to reinforce that there is no need to wash it or other meats. Garten’s side has the science to back it, and other than the potential hazards of washing chicken, there’s really no reason for it other than attachment to long-cultivated habits.

If you remain loyal to washing your chicken, however, as Drexel University food safety researcher Jennifer Quinlan told NPR, try not washing it at least once to see if you can really notice a difference. If sliminess is an issue, try patting the chicken down with a paper towel. Should you decide to continue your washing habit, you’ll need to take measures to properly disinfect any surfaces the liquid or splashing may have come into contact with, to prevent cross-contamination, and wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw meat or any food or tool that has come into contact with it. Check out these rules you should always follow to avoid food poisoning.