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Old 03-27-2017, 07:20 PM   #1
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Stab potatoes before baking them?

When baking a potato in your oven, do you recommend stabbing them a few times with a fork, or just put 'em in the oven?

I think the theory is that the holes allow steam to escape and makes the cooked potato more flaky. Right?

Also, I've found mostly the exact temperature isn't critical. Lower temp cook longer or higher temp cooks more quickly. What's the best temperature to bake your potato at? And what is the usual cook time?

I have a convection oven. One site suggests 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

I expect the pinch test tells you it's done. When you feel the skin give as you pinch it it's ready.

By the way my favorite part is the skin. Are there any ways to make the skin come out better?

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Old 03-27-2017, 07:29 PM   #2
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I stab them in several places with a steak knife, oil them, salt them, and put them directly on oven rack.
I do a toothpick test to see if they're done.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:34 PM   #3
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Greg, the main reason you want to prick the skin of a Potato before baking whole is so that they don't burst. It allows steam to escape.
I do my bakers at 375 degrees fahrenheit for about an hour, and yes, I give them all a good squeeze to see if they are soft.
As to making that glorious skin even better, I personally like twice baked skins with simply a sprinkle of cheese ... cheese, well and bacon, make everything better, don't you think?
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:21 PM   #4
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Oh, yeah. I can tell you from first hand experience that you want some vent holes in your baking potato. For years, I never did it, and never had a problem. But then it happened. Potato guts all over the inside of my oven.

Now, I use my thermometer probe to poke about six or so holes, then put the probe in to measure the internal temp of my potato. I find 210 degrees internal temp to be just right.

I cook at 350, myself, but I can't see 375 being any better or worse. It just takes a little longer at 350.

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Old 03-27-2017, 08:28 PM   #5
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I'm a stabber/forker. Unstabbed potatoes can explode.
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:41 PM   #6
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Wash, stab with a knife, nuke for 3 minutes and bake on the rack @400ºF until done-about 30-45 minutes. Stab with a knife to test for doneness.
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:42 PM   #7
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Roadfix, I've always stabbed with a fork because my mom did it. It's just today, appreciating what a valuable cooking advice on our forum, that I could ask a plethora of experts and maybe learn something new. -- Today I deviated from my usual practice and oiled with EVOO and salted. I guess a toothpic or a squeeze are probably equivalent methods of testing for doneness.

Kaneohe, I too picked 375 (after a bit of Googling) and considering I have a convection oven. Oh BTW convection is so much better than standard that it just blows my mind! -- I too love twice baked potatoes and have a recipe on my website for a few variations.

Casey, LOL I've never had a potato blow up in maybe 50 years! :) Your thermometer probe sounds like a viable alternative to a fork. As far as 350 vs 375, I think the significance of convection or standard oven has more importance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
I'm a stabber/forker. Unstabbed potatoes can explode.
OMG DL you are so tempting me into making a funny reply but I don't want you mad at me!

But SRSLY after 50 years of cooking I've never seen a potato explode when cooked in a conventional oven.

I think we can all agree that forking would be required if you intend to microwave a potato. Either fork it or get ready to have your potato detonate!
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:09 PM   #8
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When you take potatoes out of the ground they have more water in them, explode more often. I've had them explode in the oven, microwave and during boiling. If you wait until they've been stored a few months, they have given off some of their excess water, they are safer. So I stab them, always. October potatoes in the US, may explode, May potatoes probably not.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:24 PM   #9
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I've always poked my potato into submission before baking it. I used to have this devise decades ago that was basically two "U"s screwed together in the middle of the base. You would open it to a plus sign, then shove a potato on each arm. The idea was that by putting a rod of metal (about the same diameter as a standard leave-in-the-meat thermometer) through the center of the potato you reduced the cooking time. I got rid of that in a move since I never thought to use it until it was too late.

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...But SRSLY after 50 years of cooking I've never seen a potato explode when cooked in a conventional oven...
Might I suggest, then, that you continue to bake your potato without putting vent holes in it? Then you can report back if you end up with tater guts in the oven. Just to make it clear, I will not be available to come cross-country to clean out the oven.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:46 PM   #10
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I have two cooking forks from Vermont Country Store. They are about a liitle smaller that your table fork. It has three pointed tines that are needle sharp with a three riveted wooden handle. I use them all the time to stab potatoes. They have served me well. Originally they were called Granny Forks. They have a Granny Knife for paring veggies and other kitchen duties.

I wash, dry, oil and stab the heck out of the potatoes. Having it explode in the oven is just more cleaning that I don't want to have to do. That Granny fork goes real deep into the flesh of the tater. Or any veggie that I may cook with the skin on.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:47 PM   #11
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Take potatoes out of the ground? Don't they have people who do that?

Closest I've gotten is sticking a few toothpicks into a potato and submersing the bottom in water, and I have a nice potato vine in my kitchen until I have to destroy it.

CG you are going to have to wait at least 50 more years before I have a potato explode. If they have Internet connections in the life beyond, and if they eat food there, I'll let you know in another 50 years.

As it turned out I poked my potato with a fork, oiled and salted it, baked in my convection oven 375 for about 50-55 minutes and it came out fine.

I had salted and oiled it and the skin was good. I cut it in half and saved the other half for twice baked potatoes.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:47 PM   #12
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Well, I bet I do something nobody else does.

SC taught me to slice off just a sliver of potato from each end before baking. His late wife did potato's that way and she was right although neither of us knows why exactly, and he never asked her. Thanks Sally. I think they have all the venting they require for a good baked potato.

My own take is I then nuke them for three minutes and finish them in the toaster oven at 375 for 20 min. I hold one in my hand with a hot pad and beat it up with the handle of a table knife being careful not to break the skin. It's fun.
The method makes for a great fluffy baked spud!
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks View Post
But SRSLY after 50 years of cooking I've never seen a potato explode when cooked in a conventional oven.

I think we can all agree that forking would be required if you intend to microwave a potato. Either fork it or get ready to have your potato detonate!
I always knew to poke holes in a potato if I was going to nuke it. I never thought that applied to baking in the oven. Man, was I wrong about that.

Boom! (not very loud, but I could hear it)

"What was that?"

OMG!!!

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Old 03-27-2017, 09:55 PM   #14
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The only way I nuke potatoes is when I cut them up into chunks, nuke them, then use the fully cooked product as feed stock for other recipes. For example, saute the chunks in garlic butter with salt and pepper to season. Or trend into a mashed potato some variation. Mash, add cream etc. and the cooked potato provides the substrate.

BTW I always prefer "rustic" potatoes and always include the skin. According to Internet sources most of the vitamins are in the skin. Without the skin all you have left is potato starch--not a good item to add to your diet except in controlled amounts.

Starches metabolize into blood sugar (glucose) in the stomach and can exacerbate blood sugar problems such as diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. This is why it is healthy to limit intake of raw starches such as flour (bread), rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
I always knew to poke holes in a potato if I was going to nuke it. I never thought that applied to baking in the oven. Man, was I wrong about that.

Boom! (not very loud, but I could hear it)

"What was that?"

OMG!!!

CD
I've been cooking potatoes in my oven for 50+ years and never yet had one explode. YMMV

I was never stupid enough to try this in a microwave oven. It seems obvious that the huge heat created by focusing microwaves on a potato would release lots of gaseous water (steam) and could build up enough pressure to cause the potato to explode.

But again I've never seen that in a conventional oven. If I live another 50 years I'll let you know... In 50 years I might become the oldest person alive. I'm guessing that is not in my future.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks View Post
The only way I nuke potatoes is when I cut them up into chunks, nuke them, then use the fully cooked product as feed stock for other recipes. For example, saute the chunks in garlic butter with salt and pepper to season. Or trend into a mashed potato some variation. Mash, add cream etc. and the cooked potato provides the substrate.

BTW I always prefer "rustic" potatoes and always include the skin. According to Internet sources most of the vitamins are in the skin. Without the skin all you have left is potato starch--not a good item to add to your diet except in controlled amounts.

Starches metabolize into blood sugar (glucose) in the stomach and can exacerbate blood sugar problems such as diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. This is why it is healthy to limit intake of raw starches such as flour (bread), rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.
My mashed potatoes are always made with skins on. I also don't do a silky-smooth mash. I like some texture.

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Old 03-27-2017, 10:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks View Post
I've been cooking potatoes in my oven for 50+ years and never yet had one explode. YMMV

I was never stupid enough to try this in a microwave oven. It seems obvious that the huge heat created by focusing microwaves on a potato would release lots of gaseous water (steam) and could build up enough pressure to cause the potato to explode.

But again I've never seen that in a conventional oven. If I live another 50 years I'll let you know... In 50 years I might become the oldest person alive. I'm guessing that is not in my future.
I baked potatoes for 20-plus years without poking holes in them, and without an explosion. Go figure.

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Old 03-27-2017, 10:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
My mashed potatoes are always made with skins on. I also don't do a silky-smooth mash. I like some texture.

CD
Way!!! To me the skins are the best part of the potato (and have the most vitamins and nutrients too).

The rest of the potato is just starch.

I know if my mashed potatoes turn out silky smooth I ruined them. I always stop mashing when they are lumpy.

If I don't do that I might as well buy instant mashed potatoes and nuke them. NOT!!!
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
I baked potatoes for 20-plus years without poking holes in them, and without an explosion. Go figure.
I've done it both ways and still living an explosion free life.

I'm pretty sure poking holes is required only when nuking.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:12 PM   #20
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By the way, my deviation today involved rubbing with EVOO and salting before cooking. The skin was great! I'll always EVOO/salt in the future.
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