We really miss our mother’s baked potatoes. Mom was a potato fan and made a simple preparation every night, rotating among baked, boiled with parsley butter, French fried and mashed (for Sunday brunch, hash browns; for special occasions, potato pancakes).
Among this group, what we no longer come across—or make at home—is her baked potato with a super-crisp skin. We liked the outside as much as the inside. But in the interest of time, we’ve been baking our potatoes in the microwave. They’re O.K., but not memorable. In fact, they steam rather than bake, impacting the texture. This also happens when you wrap a potato in foil before baking.
So yesterday we turned on the oven and made baked potatoes with Mom’s favorite toppings: butter and sour cream topped with fresh-ground black pepper and minced fresh chives.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Rinse the potatoes under running water and pat dry. Pierce each potato 5 times with the tines of a fork.
2. RUB the potatoes with oil, sprinkle with salt and a bit of pepper, and place on a baking sheet/in a baking pan;
3. BAKE for 45 minutes and test for doneness: a cake tester should go in without resistance. If you want even crisper skin, raise the oven to 400°F for the last 15 minutes,
4. REMOVE from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting a vent across the top.
5. SERVE with a variety of toppings.
One of our favorite party foods is a baked potato bar with lots of different toppings:
 Fresh from the oven and waiting to be topped (photos #1 and #2 © Idaho Potato Commission).
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