The perfect jacket potato

The perfect jacket potato is fluffy on the inside with a crisp, crunchy skin on the outside. There are many theories on how to achieve this.

For a start, how hot should the oven should be?
Pierce the skins or not?
Place your spuds on a baking tray, or directly onto the oven rack to allow air to circulate more evenly?
Some say the potato should be coated in oil or fat, (which technically makes it a roast potato with a skin.)
Others would even have you soaking your spuds in a saline solution for several hours before cooking them.

As you can see, getting the simple baked spud just right is a complex business!

One thing’s for sure, cooking them in the embers of a fire is a bit of a hit or miss affair. And don’t bother with a microwave oven, you’ll never get the skin crispy.

If you want proper baked potatoes bake them in the oven.


You’ll need one large baking potato per person, floury varieties like Maris Piper or King Edward are best.
You’ll also need some coarse sea salt.

Here’s the best way (IMHO) to cook it

Pre-heat your oven to 220˚C / 425˚F / Gas 7.
Wash the potatoes well and prick each one in a couple of places with a fork.
Dry the potatoes but not completely. You’re going to dust each one with ground sea salt, it’ll give it a nice crunchiness, and a little moisture helps the salt to stick to the potato skin.
Grind the salt and tip it into a shallow bowl or onto a plate. Roll each potato in the salt so that it gets a generous coating.
Place the spuds directly on the rack in middle shelf of the oven.
Cook them for around an hour. Check them by giving them a squeeze, they should just give, the skin should be crisp. If not, leave them for another 10 minutes and then check again. Don’t overcook them, their insides will dry out.

When they’re cooked, put the potatoes whole onto plates, don’t split them open until you’re ready to eat or they’ll go cold. Open them with a sharp rap, or cut them open with a knife, whack in a big knob of butter, job done.

I love a baked potato just with butter and a bit of salt and pepper. But you could fill your baked spud with some grated Cheddar cheese, and a couple of spoonfuls of heated baked beans. I always think that the carby combination of mushed-up potato, stringy melted cheese and warm baked beans is paradise on a plate.

Other yummy fillings:

Tuna mixed with mayonnaise
Hot chilli con carne
Soured cream with chives

Anchovy Mayonnaise:

6 anchovy fillets, rinsed
a large cupful / 200 ml mayonnaise (home-made or from a jar)
juice of a lemon
half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Finely chop the anchovy fillets and gently warm them in a frying pan until they begin to liquefy. Stir them into the mayonnaise, along with the lemon juice and cayenne. If you don’t use it all it’ll keep in the fridge in a screw-top jar for a few days.

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