What could be more easy to make, more delicious—and more unattainable at most restaurants—than a simple well-baked potato? Maybe the problem is that baked potatoes are so humble that chefs who would know what to do with them wouldn’t dream of putting them on the menu, and less pretentious cooks often take advantage of the potato’s forgiving nature by baking them way ahead of serving, wrapping them in foil and holding them for so long they turn steamy and weirdly sweet tasting.
I could make a meal of a well-baked potato: one with crisp skin, a mealy dry and fluffy interior, squeezed open to receive a large pat of sweet butter or a dollop of sour cream, freshly ground pepper, and chopped chives fresh from the garden by the grill. In fact, this is just what I did this year for lunch every day when skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho. They sure know how to bake potatoes there, but after all if they don’t, who would?
I almost always serve baked potatoes with barbecue of any sort, putting them on the side of the grill for about ten minutes to pick up a hint of smoke from the coals.
|olive oil or olive oil spray||about
|pepper, freshly ground||to taste||•||•|
|chives, finely chopped|
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Pierce each potato a few times. If desired, insert the potato nails lengthwise through the potatoes. Wipe or spray the potatoes lightly with the oil. Place them directly on the oven rack and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Use tongs to turn them over and continue baking until tender when pierced with a fork. If desired, place them on the side of the barbecue grill for 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, make a long slash lengthwise down the center of each potato. Push the ends of the potato together slightly to fluff up the insides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the sour cream and chives on the side.
© 1992 Rose Levy Beranbaum. All rights reserved.