Now that we are done with our annual cleanse, we should all have built an appetite for a month’s worth of comfort food. And with February being the coldest time of the year, it really is the only thing that will get us through it.
I can understand how a baked potato could sound a bit boring to my fellow North-American friends. You might have had, like me, bad experiences with dry taters if the wrong ingredients were used, but I assure you, digging through a plump ball of flaky potato covered with your favorite toppings has a very soothing effect. Ever since I’ve moved the UK I’ve learned how to do it right and I turn to this classic when in need of warmth. It’s comfort in its simplest form.
There are no ways of cheating the cooking time of a great spud, one hour is what it takes. But like Nigel Slater said: “Just run a bath, pour yourself a drink and wait for the nutty smell of crisping potato skin to fill the kitchen”, it will be worth the wait.
I always bake them in pair as it doesn’t require much more effort. They are so versatile, might as well optimize the use of the oven and get a head start on some midweek recipes. On this subject, I’ll be sharing a great cheesy recipe using pre-baked potatoes next week.
Smoked salmon works beautifully with baked potatoes. The simple starch acts as a filling support and gives the delicate flavours of the fish full center stage. Mascarpone, lemon and dill are other classic pairings. The creaminess of the cheese lingers in the mouth while the lemon and dill play with your taste buds with their tang and sweetness. It’s impossible to go wrong with this combination.
- 1 large baking Potato
- 1/2 tsp Olive oil
- 2 tbsp Mascarpone
- 1 tsp, heaped, Dill
- 1/2 Lemon, zest and juice
- 2 slices Smoked salmon
- Turn the oven on to 200C/400F.
- With the tip of a knife, poke the washed and dried potato all around to help the steam escape. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
- Prepare the mascarpone topping by mixing the cheese, dill, lemon juice and zest until smooth and spreadable. Season with salt and pepper and keep aside.
- Once the potato is ready (a knife should go through its flesh like butter and slide out easily) take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 mins.
- Cut a cross on the top of the potato and with your fingertips, or with the help of a tea towel if still too hot to handle, push the flesh horizontally toward its middle. This pressure will flake out the potato making it extra soft.
- Top the spud with the mascarpone preparation and the slices of smoked salmon. Squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle a few dill sprigs before serving.
- You don’t any mascarpone cheese at home? Make the same recipe with cream cheese but use about half the quantity as it has a richer and slightly stronger flavour.