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Baking the Perfect Potato
I found it hard to believe that an article on baking potatoes would be in an issue of Cook's Illustrated. But, as Matt Damon might tell you, they've "science the s..t out of it." No surprise there, and it's always nice to know that there's a more efficient, and tasty, way to cook something. Of course, there's only one ingredient in this, well two I guess if you actually count the spuds. Besides those you'll need a little vegetable oil.
Heat oven to 400o. Select potatoes that weigh 7-9 ounces, unpeeled, each lightly pricked with a fork in 6 places. Dissolve 2 tablespoon of salt in ½ cup of water in a large bowl. Place potatoes in bowl and toss so each spud is evenly moistened. Transfer potatoes to wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and set in middle position, and bake until the center of the potato is 205o. About 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove potatoes from oven and brush tops and sides with oil. Return to oven and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes.
Basically baking the perfect potato is all about technique and temperature. (see notes)
Russets are the best because of their high starch content (20 to 22 percent) which makes them dry and fluffy. Yukon Golds (18%) will do in a pinch, but avoid using red potatoes (16%). Likewise baking them in a microwave will work in a pinch but because they cook unevenly you may easily wind up with parts of the tater being over- or under-done.
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