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Best Baked Potato

In love with baked potatoes but not always able to turn out a great one?  Or no time to wait... and wait... Here's help.

  1. Pick the best, most blemish-free potato.  They should be uniform size, not too large, not too small.  Idaho should be long and thin, russet or white potatoes medium sized. 
     
  2. Potatoes baked in foil aren't baked, they are steamed.   Don't try it.
  3. Oiling the potato skin before oven baking tastes better but they still will have a steamed texture.
  4. Potatoes may be "baked" in the microwave; I rub mine with olive oil or spray with cooking spray   Unless you've had to dig out a lot of eyes and/or blemishes, prick them all over to prevent them from blowing up.   A medium potato takes 4 to 9 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.  Keep testing for doneness, as even 30 seconds past the magic point and hard, dry spots will form.  These do not really taste like baked potatoes, though, and will not have that delicious chewy skin.
  5. Best way:  Set oven to heat to 350°.  Scrub, trim and if needed, pierce the potatoes.  Place on medium or high rack and back for about 1 1/2 hours (less if smaller ones are used).   They should have a fluffy texture and a crisp and chewable skin.
  6. Next best way if you're in a hurry for just a very few potatoes.  Set oven to 350°.  Prepare potatoes.  Microwave about 5 minutes per medium potato, or until barely tender.  Place in oven on the rack for 10 to 15 minutes while you put the finishing touches on the rest of the meal. 

Potatoes are starch (carbs!) but can still be a part of a healthy diet, eaten in moderation in combination with proteins and veggies.  They contain vitamins and minerals.  But watch the toppings!  If you are sautéing meat, you can drain off the fat and make an un-thickened pan gravy by adding water.  Or when preparing a dish with a low fat or fat free sauce, that can serve as topping too.   Low fat or fat free sour cream, perhaps jazzed up ahead of time with some minced or dried dill,  minced green onions or dried onion flakes, is great.   Even "lite" margarine with no hydrogenated or trans-fats, such as Smart Balance, doesn't add too many calories when used sparingly.   You can even drizzle the potato with a little good olive oil.   A grinding of black pepper makes up for a lot of the fat generally used as dressing, too.

Still worried about calories?   Enjoy, then take a stroll after dinner to burn them off.

 

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