I love baked potatoes, but they take so long to cook. Potatoes need an hour (or more) to be tender in the middle with a crisp, crackling skin. Weeknight baked potatoes? Out of the question.
That changed one afternoon as I drove back from lunch. Jacques Pepin was on the radio, chatting about his new cookbook. Jacques is an encyclopedia of cooking tips, and he had a great time sharing them with the host of the show.
Then came the tip that nearly ran me off the road. His baked potatoes are done in thirty minutes or less. What?
*At this point, I remembered the yellow lines on the road are for my safety, and the safety of all those other cars around me...
Thirty minutes? How? Jacques microwaves the potatoes while his oven pre-heats, giving them a head start. The result is perfect baked potatoes in half the time they normally take.
That was seven years ago; I have used the microwave technique ever since. Now, I'm almost ashamed to share this; it's barely a recipe. One ingredient, two steps. And I'm stretching to make it two steps. But I'll get over my shame. This is too useful a technique.
Recipe: Quick Baked Potatoes
Adapted From: Jacques Pepin, Fast Food My WayPrint
Quick Baked Potatoes - jump start the cooking in the microwave, and they're done in a half an hour.
- 6 small russet potatoes (6-8 ounces each)
- Start potatoes in Microwave: Turn oven to 425*F. Wash the potatoes, then poke each one three times with a fork. Microwave the potatoes on high for 6 minutes.
- Finish potatoes in oven: Transfer the potatoes to the oven, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the skin feels crisp when a potato is squeezed. Remove from the oven and immediately cut a slice the top of the potato to let the steam escape. Squeeze from the ends to fluff up, and serve.
- Prep Time: 1 minute
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Cuisine: American
Large potatoes, 12 to 16 ounces: microwave for 8 to 10 minutes before transferring to the oven, and bake for 25 minutes.
*Salt and pepper the potatoes once they are split open. Garnish with one or more of: shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, jalapenos. Or a pat of butter. Or, my favorite, a pan sauce from sauteed pork chops.
*Find good, clean potatoes for this recipe. Baked potatoes work best when they're whole. The skin traps the steam inside, making the inside fluffy and tender. If you have to remove bruises or eyes, then the steam will escape, and the potatoes won't bake as well.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Jacques Pepin, Fast Food My Way
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