One thing that struck me at The Food Show in Auckland this year is how much those attending the demonstrations in the Electrolux Cooking Theatre hung on every word, devouring every little tip. The interest and desire to learn was palpable. It seems one of the most useful tips I gave out, without even thinking about it, was how to get crunchy skin on jacket-baked potatoes. This is something I presumed everyone would know, but apparently not. It’s too easy to presume that everyone knows the basics when you are demonstrating, and quite grounding to be reminded that isn’t so!
The skin on potatoes is full of nutrients, and when scrubbed clean and cooked as I describe below it’s delicious. If you’ve never tried it, or don’t quite believe it, read on! I’ve had great feedback on this method and thought it was worthwhile sharing. I did have two other interesting comments made to me… one woman informed me that it was an awful waste of electricity to have the oven roaring away for so long just to get crunchy potato skins (1½ hours). I replied that it is perhaps not the wisest choice when making just one or two potatoes – but, potatoes are a cheap way to fill a crowd (think upwards to 20!), so are perfect for large gatherings. If cooking for a smaller group, choose other dishes which cook at the same temperature to utilize the oven heat ie stuffed baked mushrooms, which could be served with the potatoes along with a salad to make a tasty, nutritious, easy and inexpensive meal. Another woman queried whether the potatoes could be started in the microwave then finished in the oven. I replied, ‘No’. Stick with the method below for the perfect result – I developed it years ago and it has been tried and tested hundreds and hundreds of times in various ovens. Start with a floury potato and I guarantee success (in New Zealand I use agria).
Here’s a flavoursome mushroom sauce given a flavour boost with a handful of porcini mushrooms. Served over crunchy potatoes it makes an excellent vegetarian main course. Or try it with an omelette, with sizzled chicken breasts or panfried pork snitzel.