Grilled "Baked" Potatoes

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You know how sometimes you just get a mood for a certain food?
The first chilly day of Fall and I get nuts for homemade chicken noodle soup, or if I'm sad and want to a wallow for a bit, a rich and decadent cheesecake is my pity party companion. Mood can dictate our food and food can certainly dictate our mood. It's so fascinating how the two are related. It's been said a million times, "You are what you eat," which is true. So that makes me a potato. And quite happily so, I might add.


What the hell am I waffling on about?

Well, comfort food. Nothing can lift my spirits or make me feel safe and comfortable the way a piping hot potato can. I don't care if it's a good ol' American Idaho Russet Burbank potato with its odd elongated plumpness and thick skin. Or it can be one of my personal favorites, the lesser-known South American Adirondack Blue Potato, chock full of antioxidants with a slightly sweet and crisp taste. Even a traditional Irish potato, which, although it may seem blasphemous, tastes a lot better than an American potato any day. I'm not sure if it's the fact that Irish potatoes grow deep in the rain-cultivated, chilly Irish earth or what, but they taste heartier, have a subtle sweetness and an undeniable potato taste. Much more tasty than their English neighboring crops.


I love potatoes. Every bit of it from the skin to the soft and fluffy flesh. Smothered with butter, Ranch dressing and chives or shallow-fried with cheese and chili. Roasted and crunchy or boiled and combined with mayonnaise and dill for a refreshing, summery potato salad. Potato aficionado; that's me.

So, with my deep love of my favorite food comes the one downside: they always take so long to cook!

There's nothing worse than craving a baked potato at 9:00 at night, knowing you can't begin to indulge in it until near 11:00 p.m. Until now.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing the Internet and came across a peculiarly intriguing recipe: the grilled "baked" potato. Of course, like an addict, I jumped all over it and made it within seconds of reading. There's no point delaying it anymore, this recipe produces a perfectly baked, non-baked potato, with a crunchy skin and light and fluffy flesh. I mean, the potato flesh rises from inside the cooked potato like peaks ... little mountains of yummyness.

Here's what you do:
First of all, don't go firing up your grill. You're actually going to use your oven. No, you're not baking them and no, they won't take forever. Here's a tip, I learned while living in England.

The English have this neat contraption on their ovens called a grill. It's an electric grill, kind of like a George Foreman, but bigger and ... well, better for some things. If you have one of those open top George Foremans, you can easily use that as a substitute. But if you don't, just use the broiler on your oven. Broiling and grilling in this sense are basically the same thing. When you broil something, you heat it from above, which is what happens with this type of grilling.

Now that that's all figured out, warm your grill/broiler on medium to high heat. Pop the grill tray or cookie sheet into the broiler for a few minutes as well so that it can warm up.
Meanwhile, take your washed potatoes with the skin still in tact and poke holes in them using a fork or score the circumference of a potato, just how you would if you were to bake it.
Brush olive oil around the potato then shake some salt onto it.
Put the potatoes on a microwave plate and microwave on high for four minutes. Turn the potatoes over and nuke for a further four minutes.
Then transfer your potatoes to your warmed grill pan/cookie sheet and grill or broil for six minutes, turn over and then grill or broil for a further six minutes (or until cooked thoroughly).
Prepare and serve as you normally would.
Aren't they just the fluffiest, loveliest little potatoes in the world?

Coming up: homemade spaghetti carbonara with 10-minute stuffed peppers

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