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Kitchen Secrets: How to master the perfect baked potato, according to our readers

‘I stab them with a fork very randomly.’

Image: Shutterstock/Matthew J Thomas

EVERY HOME COOK has their own kitchen hacks, cheats and traditions, and we want to know yours.

Each week as part of our Kitchen Secrets series, we ask readers to share their cooking tips and go-to food and drink ideas. From the secret to quick-and-easy dinners, to the best way to scramble an egg, we set a new question every seven days.

Next week, we’ll be asking for your favourite recipes to celebrate a birthday – and we’d love to hear yours. Email us on food@thejournal.ie – and you could see your response in the magazine!

What’s the secret to a perfect baked potato?

I find baked potatoes really hard, so I stab them with a fork very randomly and nuke them in the microwave for 10 minutes before putting them in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes. Rubbing sea salt over them makes the skin crispy, and always use good quality potatoes to start.

- Donna O’Shaughnessy

I like to use Irish rooster potatoes. Pierce with a fork a few times, bake for a minimum of 40 minutes, or up to an hour for larger ones, at 190°c. They are great to put in the oven on a timer earlier in the day, as they are fine at the ambient temperature for the day. This will also result in crispy skin, fluffy-fleshed potatoes when you come in the door, ready to top with what you like!

- Fiona Staunton

Baked potatoes are a great comfort food but can be a bit of a pain to wait for in the oven. I start mine off in the microwave; first I wash the spuds and pierce them all over with a fork, then lay them between two sheets of kitchen roll and microwave for approximately 10-12 minutes, rotating the spuds every four minutes or so. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°c so you can crisp up the skin. Once the potatoes feel squishy, drizzle them in olive oil and sea salt and pop them in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. They’re delicious with leftover chilli and melted cheese on top, or simply plenty of butter, salt and pepper and a huge dollop of sour cream and freshly snipped chives. 

- Donna Connolly

When baking potatoes, it’s essential to start with a potato that has a floury texture. No matter how you try, baking a waxy potato will never be a success. Wash and dry the potatoes, rub them with a little salt and olive oil. Prick the potatoes all over – this is  important as the steam needs to escape while cooking. Take two metal skewers and thread each potato through both skewers. Three potatoes usually fit. This has two functions: first, the potatoes will cook quicker as the metal skewers heat, and second, it will make turning the potatoes easier. They take about an hour in a hot oven, turning once.

- Angie Nolan

I’m never usually organised enough to buy the “proper” baked potato, so I just use my usual rooster potato. Pick a nice big one and cut a cross in the top. I only use tin foil if I’m throwing it into a barbecue. Otherwise, cover well with olive oil, some salt and pepper and put it into the oven uncovered. Then it’s all about what texture you want. I prefer really fluffy inside and good and crispy outside, so that’s about two hours and 15 minutes to two hours 30 minutes (depending on the size) at 180°c. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll stick it in the microwave first for about five minutes, that will reduce the oven time to 35-40 minutes. It’s all about slow cooking a baked potato and taking the time, that’s why they’re so nice – you can’t rush them!

- Olly Keegan

More Kitchen Secrets: Readers dish on their favourite make ahead meals

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