Wash the potatoes with a small vegetable brush and dry with a paper towel. Remove the eyes and trim away blemishes with a paring knife, if needed.
Pierce the skin with a fork at least 6 to 8 times around the potato. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! This allows the steam to escape and prevents them from exploding.
Coat the potatoes generously with oil, then rub with the salt.
Place the potatoes directly on the rack with a small sheet pan under the potatoes. Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees F for 60 to 75 minutes. Test for doneness, by piercing the potato with a toothpick. If there is any resistance, leave the potato in the oven for ten more minutes and recheck with the toothpick. Repeat the process as necessary until the toothpick goes in without resistance.
Serve the potatoes with the toppings or your choice.
Russet potatoes make the best baking potatoes.Poke the potatoes with a fork. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! The reason you pierce holes in the potatoes is to allow the steam to escape and prevents them from exploding.The size of the potato makes a difference in cooking time. To test for doneness, I pierce the potato with a toothpick. If there is any resistance, I leave the potato in the oven a little longer. I will check with the toothpick every ten minutes until the toothpick goes in without resistance.Remember the order in which you top your potatoes makes a difference. It's important to get the butter, salt, and pepper as close to the flesh as possible so that it will melt and run down inside the potatoes. Believe me, it's not a good thing to bite down into a chunk of unmelted butter. Follow the butter, salt, and pepper with cheese and other toppings of your choice.When it comes to baked potatoes, I have learned that your baked potatoes don't have to be boring. Baked potatoes are so versatile and they don't have to be a just a side dish either. Transform baked potatoes into a star meal! Our favorite way to eat them is to top the potatoes with butter, salt and fresh cracked pepper, extra-sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, olives, sliced deli turkey and/or ham, bacon, chives or scallions.
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