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Comfort Food Feast: Jacket Potatoes

We pulled out our winter jackets yesterday.  It had rained through the night, so the kids thought the weather, and this week’s official arrival of fall, seemed to somehow deemed it okay to wear thick, heavy coats.  I sort of agreed.  It was much too chilly a morning to go without cozy layers.  I thought that made it perfectly acceptable to bake up an oven full of comfort food, as well.  And so, jacket potatoes it was for dinner last night.

Jacket potatoes are essentially baked potatoes served with the “jacket,” or skin on.  These jacket potatoes are cut with a criss-cross center before baking, drizzled with a hefty coat of olive oil, then rubbed down with fresh-cracked pepper and a touch of sea salt. 

What comes out of the oven and hour and a half later is tender potato with a crunchy, peppercorned crust.  The center of the potato will baked itself ever so slightly open, like a little autumn crysanthemum opening it’s buds to say hello to the season.  They are simple, delightful, and absolutely splendid when topped with sour cream, cheddar, thick pieces of bacon, and chives.   Of course, you can also offer a plenty of a la carte toppings and let your diners create their own favorite combinations.  To add more health value to your jacket potatoes, try stuffing them with steamed broccoli and lemon-butter cheese sauce (which can be made by whisking 2 T. butter, 2 T. lemon juice, 1 T. flour, and 1 cup low fat cheese together in a saucepan until melted.)  No matter how you decide to stuff your potatoes, this is one jacket you’ll want to pull out of the recipe closet again and again.

Jacket Potatoes
4 very large new potatoes, or Idaho potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt & fresh-cracked pepper
Any Desired Toppings: Sour cream, cheese, chili, chives, bacon, diced ham, broccoli, cheese sauce, etc.
Wash the potatoes, scrubbing skins well and drying them completely before beginning. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross  shape in the top of the potato.  The cuts should extend to the center of the potato, but not go all the way through and slice the potato in half.  Drizzle olive oil generously atop each potato.  Rub it all over the potato with your hands.  If desired, rub a small amount of sea salt and fresh-ground pepper into the potato skin.  Place in a large baking dish and bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 90 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool slightly before topping with preferred toppings and serving.

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