Jacket potatoes

Could there possibly be anyone in the wide world who doesn’t drool at the thought of jacket potatoes with really crisp, crunchy skins and fluffy, floury insides with something lovely melted into them? I’m not speaking of the insipid microwave versions of convenience fame, but the hallowed, reverenced beauty of the real thing. If you ever feel like treating yourself and want something supremely soothing and comforting that costs almost nothing (forget chocolate bars and the like), just bake yourself the biggest potato you can lay your hands on, then cut it in half and, as you do, listen carefully to the inviting crackle and crunch of the skin as the knife goes in. The secret of perfect jacket potatoes is not to hurry them – give them up to 2 hours to get the really crunchy skin, learn to use the time when you’re out, so they can be ready when you come home, or go and do something else and forget about them till they’re ready.

INGREDIENTSjacket potatoes
4 large baking potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
200ml soured cream
Salt, to taste

PLUS ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING
50g cheddar, grated
4 crispy bacon rashers, chopped
4 spring onions, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONSjacket potatoes 3
Heat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Rub a little oil over each potato and put on the top shelf of the oven. Bake for 20 mins, then turn down the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5 and bake for 45 mins-1 hr until the skin is crisp and the flesh soft.

Cut a cross on top of the potato, squeeze the sides, add a dollop of soured cream and your favourite topping. Serve jacket potatoes immediately.

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