How to Make the Best Baked Potatoes—No Foil Needed

source: Gimme Some Oven/Youtube

Last year, my husband and I went to Great Britain and oh boy, the baked potatoes there were the tastiest ever. Still, it was not my first time eating baked potatoes. For instance, at home, I prepared them quite often. But these were different. Over there, they refer to them as Jacket Potatoes. Initially, they looked and tasted almost like American baked potatoes, but as you will find out, there was a difference in the preparation. I will not fib, my better half said, “You should prepare this kind of potato when you get home; I am tired of the normal ones.” And I agreed with him.

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If you have no idea what Jacket Potatoes are, then allow me to enlighten you on the possibilities of the baked potato. You will not regret preparing them. Picture a potato with a crust you can literally hear cracking, yet the inside is as light as a feather. Absolutely delicious.

First things first, what is a Jacket Potato? Basically, it is a potato that has been baked, but there is some British enchantment in it. The only major difference is in the way it is prepared and the small factors that make this simple dish even better.

source: Gimme Some Oven/Youtube

In the UK, Jacket Potatoes are quite popular, and they are normally taken as a meal and can be complemented with toppings such as beans, cheese, tuna mayo, and the list is endless. What is their success secret? That is where technique comes in.

To make Jacket Potatoes, first, you need to select the right type of potato to use. These are floury varieties such as Russets or Maris Pipers as they have a firm flesh which becomes fluffy when baked. It is recommended to thoroughly wash the potatoes and then dry them. Then, poke the potatoes all over with a fork. This may look like a small achievement, but it creates small holes through which steam can be released when baking so that the potatoes do not burst open.

For that signature crispy skin, here’s the game-changer: It is recommended to lightly grease the potatoes by applying oil to them. I like to use olive oil because it gives a great taste, but you can use any cooking oil that you would like. After that, sprinkle them with sea salt, and that is it—they are ready to be baked. This step makes use of a simple procedure similar to toasting bread and it enhances the taste of the potato with every bite through the added crunch.

source: Gimme Some Oven/Youtube

First, set your oven to a very high temperature of 400°F and let it heat up. Put the potatoes on the rack for even cooking since there are no trays to hold them. I also use another baking tray on the below rack to avoid any spillage and to keep my oven clean. Bake them for about 1 to 1½ hours in the oven; the time may vary depending on the size of the potato. You will know that they are done when the skins turn deep brown and crunchy and a fork can easily be inserted into the center.

But here’s the extra step that makes all the difference: Once your potatoes are perfectly baked, remove them from the oven and make a deeper cut on the existing holes. This results in having more space, and the potatoes become even fluffier on the inside. Return them to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes. This final bake is what gives them that cloud-like interior that is the signature characteristic of the product.

Once they are done, cut them in half and put a piece of butter in and let it melt inside. They can be topped with just about anything that you desire. My children love theirs with cheese and beans; my husband loves his with a spoon of sour cream and chives. Even my mother-in-law said that she would like to have the recipe, which is a big compliment.

The only distinction between Jacket Potatoes and American baked potatoes is in the slight variation. American baked potatoes are usually aluminum foiled, and this does not bake the potato but rather steams it, hence the soft skin. When it comes to Jacket Potatoes, you don’t cover your potatoes with foil; the skin will turn crispy while the interior will be soft.

When I made them for the first time at home, the looks on my family members’ faces were quite something. “These are the best potatoes ever,” my kids said. My husband couldn’t get enough of it, and I was rather surprised at how much of a difference mere tweaks could make.

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However, I do realize that, at some point, we will be returning to the good old American baked potatoes; for now, though, we continue to enjoy the Jacket Potatoes. It has become something we always have in the house, a memento of a great holiday to Great Britain and a great eating establishment that we found there.

Thus, if you are interested in improving the quality of your potato meals, then Jacket Potatoes will do the trick. It’s a very simple recipe, uses very few ingredients, and the outcome is just fantastic. Also, it is entertaining to change the routine in the kitchen and prepare something different for the family to enjoy. I assure you that after tasting these, you would not want to go back to the normal baked potatoes again.