As long as there are a few potatoes in the pantry, I know that I have at least one option for dinner. Whether topped with a scoop of hearty chili or a simple pat of butter, baked potatoes are a favorite no-brainer meal when I just want something easy and warm. Here are three different ways to make them.
No matter which method you choose to use, be sure to wash the potato and prick it all over with a fork. Forgetting that crucial pricking step will result in a spud grenade in your oven. Pricking the skin gives the steam inside the cooking potato a means of escape without this risk of bursting.
1. Oven-Baked Potatoes - Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and prick them with the tines of a fork. You can lay them directly on the oven rack or place them on a baking sheet. Cook the potatoes for 45-60 minutes, until their skin is crispy and sticking one with a fork meets no resistance. Bottom line: Crispy potato skins!
2. Potatoes Wrapped in Foil - Follow the same directions as for oven-roasted potatoes, but wrap the potatoes in foil before cooking. Bottom line: Softer skin, plus the potatoes stay warm in their foil if you're still working on the topping or need to save a potato for a late family member.
3. Microwaved Potatoes - Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and prick them with the tines of a fork. Place all the potatoes on a microwave-safe dish and microwave at full power for five minutes. Turn them over and microwave for another 3-5 minutes. If still hard in the middle, microwave in additional 1-minute bursts until cooked through. Bottom line: Super-fast cooking time with soft skins.
What's your favorite way to bake a potato?
Related: How to Pick a Potato