Bring back the baked potato!

In Tips and Hints on August 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm

One of the worst and best things to happen to the home kitchen was the inexpensive microwave oven.

Since “nuking” food came into being, baked potatoes have not been the same.  I have been one of the guiltiest parties in the hastening the all but entire disappearance of the real baked potato.

There is nothing to beat one of those gianormous baking potatoes slathered with butter (HeartSmart faux butter or olive oil), topped with garlic-chives, and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper.

It has been many (many!) years since I ate a baked potato with sour cream.


I understand why the “real” baked potato slipped from its place of prominence alongside fried chicken and grilled steaks…it takes up to an hour to bake a potato in the oven…a bit longer if you bury them in the coals of your charcoal grill.

Charcoal grills have given way to gas-fired mega-monstrosities and microwave ovens can accomplish a barely passable baked ‘tater in about 5-10 minutes.

But there has been a trade.  They just do not taste as good.

Phyne Dyning to the rescue!

Here is a tip on how to make your next baked potatoes soar.  The potatoes can be baked traditionally in an oven or in the hot coals, or in a microwave oven and finished on your gas grill.

Here we go…

1 large russet baking potato per person (the HUGE potatoes)

1-2 tbs margarine, butter, or a healthy substitute per potato

½ tsp dried rosemary per potato

dash of hickory or mesquite “liquid smoke” per potato

1 square heavy-duty aluminum foil per potato (large enough to fully wrap the ‘tater)

kosher salt

In a microwave oven, bake the potatoes until they are just short of being fully baked.  Some people cut the ends from the potatoes to prevent intra-oven explosions, I poke MANY holes around the potato using a paring knife…which actually helps the other flavorings penetrate into the potato in the finishing step.

Allow the potatoes to cool sufficiently to handle safely.  Schmear about 1-2 tbs of butter (or similar) onto the potatoes, using your hands.  Thoroughly work the butter into the skin of the potato.  Place the potato in the center of a square of aluminum foil and sprinkle it with ½ tsp dried rosemary, some kosher salt, and a dash of liquid smoke.  Wrap the potato in the foil, making it as leak resistant as possible.

Place the potato on the overhead rack of your gas grill (or in an area of indirect heat) with the lid closed for about 30 minutes, or place in a 300-degree oven for the same amount of time.  If you are using charcoal, lay the wrapped potatoes around the periphery of the coals for 15 minutes, rotate them 180 degrees, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Potatoes are forgiving, so go ahead and grill those steaks.  The potatoes will be waiting patiently for you.

The piney-woodsy flavors of rosemary and smoke in the flesh of the potatoes will compliment your steaks to the point of being obsequious.


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