Recipe Review

Martha Stewart Just Taught Me the Secret to the Best-Ever Baked Potato

published Dec 5, 2020
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Credit: Meghan Splawn

Last year, thanks to my colleague Sheela Prakash, I fell madly in love with jacket potatoes. As Sheela explains in her ode to the British take on the classic baked potato, a longer baking time at a lower temperature makes Russet potatoes incredibly crisp on the outside and super fluffy on the inside. So when Martha Stewart shared a method for something similar using Yukon gold potatoes on her Instagram page, I knew I had to try it.

As Martha mentions in her caption, Yukon gold potatoes aren’t typically used to make baked potatoes. Instead, because of their thin, flavorful skin and low starch content, they’re more often used for crispy roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or the popular crash hot potatoes. Russet potatoes, on the other hand, are considered the standard for baked potatoes. Their thick skin and high starch content stand up to the baking time required for getting even the heftiest potatoes fork tender.

Needless to say, I was a little bit worried that Martha’s baked Yukon, which required 90 minutes in the oven, would leave me with a burnt, dry potato. In fact, Martha’s Instagram potato even looked more like a Russet — the skin was burnished from pale yellow to a deep brown from the long bake. Nevertheless, I took to the kitchen to find out why Martha raved about this baked potato method — and the results changed everything I thought I knew about baked potatoes.

How to Make a Baked Potato, Martha Style

Since Martha didn’t specify what size her “large” Yukon gold potatoes were, I looked for potatoes in the six- to eight-ounce range that were about the same size as a medium Russet potato. I washed and dried the potatoes, but didn’t poke them with a fork (as you sometimes do for baked Russets) or oil them. I set the potatoes directly on my oven’s middle rack and, as Martha directed, let them bake at 325°F for 90 minutes without checking. (My husband had to confirm with me twice that I knew the oven was on as they baked).

The Yukon potatoes browned gorgeously in the oven! Still, I worried I had over-baked them because their skin was so crisp. I followed Martha’s instruction for dropping the hot potatoes onto a cutting board to break them open and “fluff the interior.” The thin skin of the potatoes almost shattered, revealing the creamiest baked potato interior I had ever seen. All of my concerns about the skin being leathery or dry from the long bake disappeared, and I couldn’t get the butter on my potato fast enough.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

Why I Loved Martha’s Baked Yukon Potato

My favorite part of baking Yukon gold potatoes instead of Russets wasn’t just the creamy, slightly sweet interior, but how tasty the skin was. My kids — who usually leave the skin off their baked Russets to be composted — even ate the skin. My oldest even said it reminded her of a french fry. While the kids ate theirs buttered and salted as a dinner side, I took things just a bit further and followed Martha’s directions for topping the buttery potato with sour cream and chopped chives. The results were one of the most memorable bits of the year. Something so simple — the humble baked potato — was completely elevated by using a different type of potato and giving it a long slow cook. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Russets again.

Credit: Kitchn