I thought I knew everything there was to know about jacket potatoes:
I had formative experience with the Spud-U-Likes of the late ’80’s, shared with my dad on winter evenings at Leeds bus station.
Then there was the foil-wrapped potatoes of the ’90’s, coated in olive oil and salt and baked until golden. (Our family were early adopters of olive oil in the UK due to my ma’s brief foray into the business world of import-export).
More recently there’s been the fad for just scrubbing your potatoes, and sprinkling them in sea salt whilst still damp. Thus, resulting in crispier skin.
What more is there to know? Well it seems I am somewhat late to the party when it comes to these cheesy, stuffed, very-simple and very-delicious potatoes; the concept is not new to me, but their versatility is, and therein lies the beauty.
On a recent trip to York (my former Homeland), I find myself in my usual spot at Polly’s kitchen table; chewing the fat, kids running amok. Polly is a friend of old. A true friend. The type of friend you would allow to ‘trim’ your hair EVEN THOUGH she has NO hairdressing experience. The type of friend who, even after giving you what can only be described as a ‘wonky bowl-cut’, removing at least ten inches of your luscious, long locks, you would still forgive. She’s that kind of a friend.
I digress. I’m sitting at her table, (probably going through old school friends and what they’re up to now; we never tire of that conversation), and I watch Polly get a tray of jacket potatoes out of the oven. It is not near tea-time. What is this super organisation?
Turns out you can make these cheesy potatoes in advance; stick them in the fridge; stick them in the freezer; get them out when you need them. To me, this is a revelation: no more waiting for an hour until your spud is done, blood sugar steadily dropping. (Yes, I could use a microwave but 1. The taste is not the same, and 2. My husband threw ours away).
So now these have become a staple in our house. We have them once a week on nights like tonight, when we’re getting in late and we need food in fifteen minutes.
- potatoes for baking, preferably King Edwards or Maris Piper
- coarse sea salt
- grated mature cheddar
Preheat oven at 210C/425F/gas mark 7.
Scrub the potatoes. Remove any bad bits with a sharp knife. Whilst still damp, rub them in sea salt.
Put them on a baking tray and cook for approximately an hour.
Remove tray from oven and leave to cool. Go out/ go to work / have fun.
Come home. Put the oven on before you even take your coat off: 200C / gas mark 6. Put kettle on. Grate lots of cheese into a bowl. Make yourself a cup of tea.
Cut the potatoes open. Scoop out the flesh and mash in a bowl with the back of a fork. Add a big handful of grated cheese. Mix and mash a bit more.
Stuff the potato skins with the cheesy mix. Sprinkle some extra cheese on top. Put in the oven until heated through, about 15 minutes, depending on how long you’re willing to wait.
Switch oven to grill-mode (if you have that option) and grill for five minutes to get the cheese lovely and bubbly.
Sit down and enjoy. Feel smug that you’ve done a meal with some forward-planning.
(Excuse the aubergines. This post is not about them.)