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Cooking a Baked Potato is Not as Boring as it Sounds

Jul 30, 2008
Baked potatoes have been a popular side dish for many years. Besides being baked, the versatile potato can be boiled, slow cooked in a crock pot or fried. But, baking remains one of the most popular ways of cooking a potato.

Potatoes are baked in either a conventional oven or a microwave. They can also be baked in foil in a barbecue grill.

Choose the potatoes you use for baking wisely. They should be firm and have no wrinkles or stems growing from the eyes. Select potatoes of medium size; all potatoes should be (close) to the same size and shape. This will make sure the potatoes are all finished cooking at the same time.

To bake in a conventional oven:

1. Preheat your oven to 450F.

2. Scrub all dirt from potatoes and dry thoroughly.

3. Poke holes in each potato to allow steam to escape.

4. Rub oil on potatoes before baking. This will keep moisture inside the potato and make the skin a bit crispy. Some people may want to eliminate this step.

5. Put potatoes on baking sheet and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

To bake in a microwave oven:

1. Wash potatoes and dry thoroughly.

2. Poke holes in potatoes to allow steam to prevent them from exploding in the microwave.

3. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how many potatoes are put into the oven.

4. Potatoes should be allowed to stand for 5 to 10 minutes to finish cooking.

To serve a baked potato:

1. Slice each potato in half.

2. Squeeze each half from both ends to loosen the potato from the skin.

3. Top your completed masterpiece with your favorite topping: Butter, broccoli and cheese, bacon or sour cream are all delicious toppings.

Here's a recipe for a fancier main dish that is suitable for company.

Tuna Stuffed Potatoes
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

4 hot baked potatoes
1/2 cup hot milk
2 green onions, minced
1 egg
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 medium tomato, diced
1 can (7 1/2 oz.) tuna, drained
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Parsley for garnish

Instructions:

1. Cut a thin slice from one flat side of each potato. Scoop out the interior into a bowl. Mash, adding the hot milk; whip until fluffy.

2. Add the green onions, egg and butter, whipping mixture well. Season with salt and cayenne. Fold in tomato and tuna.

3. Pile this mixture back into the skins, mounding it high (shells will be heaped up almost 3 inches higher).

4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

5. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes or until heated through.

Here are a few more tips that will help:

* Use a muffin tin to hold potatoes upright for even baking.
* You can cut baking time in half by skewering with a "potato nail."
* Cook extra for hash browns for tomorrow's breakfast.

As you can see, baked potatoes don't have to be plain and boring. Use interesting ingredients for "twice" baked spuds or use unexpected toppings to keep this side dish from getting boring.
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You, too, can learn how to cook at LearnHomeCooking.com
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