When you're craving a baked potato smothered with tasty toppings, the hour that it normally takes for spuds to cook can be exasperating. The reality is that the best baking potatoes are large and dense, and that's why they take so long to get done. So, if you want your baked potato to be ready sooner, you must pre-cook to help it along, so that it bakes more quickly. Pre-cooking a potato cuts the baking time down to about 30 minutes.
Clean a baking potato with a vegetable brush under running water. Pierce the skin in three or four places, and microwave it on high for around 5 minutes. You also can parboil the potato for around 20 minutes. Baking potatoes have tough skin, so parboiling won't split it.
Brush cooking oil on the potato skin, and sprinkle it with coarse salt. The oil heats up and helps the potato cook faster.
Lay the potato on a baking sheet, and place it in the oven, or place it right on the rack; the oven should be preheated to around 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the potato for about 30 minutes, and use a fork to test doneness. Remove the potato from the oven and prepare it with your toppings of choice.
- The Kitchn: How to Bake a Potato in the Oven
- The Clever Cook's Kitchen Handbook; David Joachim
- Push an aluminum or stainless steel nail, known as a potato nail, through the center of the potato lengthwise. Potato nails conduct heat and help the inside of potatoes bake faster. Take the nail out of the potato before serving it. Such nails can be purchased at stores that sell kitchen gadgets.
- Generally, avoid wrapping pre-cooked potatoes in aluminum foil. Although foil works well for standard baked potatoes, wrapping pre-cooked potatoes -- which are moist at the outset -- makes them soggy.
- Never microwave a potato with a nail in it.
- Don't use construction nails as potato nails. Such nails are often coated with industrial grade substances that aren't safe for consumption.
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.