I will usually use 1 1/2 large potatoes, but use your judgment for your appetite.
Take the potatoes, wash, dry, and poke holes on four sides with a fork. Bake for 1 hour at 400*.
When the potatoes are ready, cut them in half. Put two or three halves in a cereal or soup bowl.
Keep the potato flesh in the skins, but mash it a little with some butter.
Add to the potato whatever you like. my personal preferences are:
chopped up chives,
bacon pieces (real bacon, not bits),
shredded cheddar cheese (or your favorite flavor), and
a dollop of sour cream.
Jacket potatoes are very versatile. You can smother them with chili, leftover hamburger meet, pasta sauce with meat (I’d recommend mozzarella for that one), broccoli, beef stew leftovers. The options are endless.
They make a great lunch, and pair them with a hearty salad, and they can be very filling for dinner.
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Recently, we had jacket potatoes for dinner. We’d run out of groceries except for a 5lb. bag of potatoes, and some odds and ends in the fridge. No one wanted to make dinner. When I suggested potatoes for that dinner, my husband thought I was being crazy, but since he didn’t have to make the meal, he went along with it.
It’s funny how the simplest thing can seem like the best, most wonderful, unique food on the planet. The first time I had a potato as a main dish like this I was in England in the eatery at Warwick Castle. My friend and I were on a three week adventure through the UK, and we were watching our pennies. We still had another week to get through with the cash we had on hand, and as any tourist place, even twenty-odd years ago, the castle’s food was expensive.
Looking though the menu, we both chose this odd but very interesting sounding thing called a jacket potato. It really was an oddity. A baked potato with stuff in it. It was huge. It was like the size of two potatoes with what looked like four ounces of cheddar cheese on top. I loved it. I came home that spring and started making them for my lunches.
Many years later, upon returning to North Wales, I visited another castle. This one was Caernarfon, 13th century built by Edward I to subjugate the Welsh. They had a gift shop, but no place to eat on site. It didn’t much matter; there were enough places to choose from in the small town.
I ended up in an alleyway, called Hole in the Wall. Too narrow for a car, but perfect for walking or bicycling. There were several places along the small lane, and at least three restaurants all on the same side of the lane, and I chose the cafe across from where the bell tower used to be. The stones that made up the tower and surrounded the bell were still there but half of the stones were missing so one side was open.
Appropriately named The Bell Tower Cafe, it was a tiny place, maybe ten tables, mostly filled with regulars, a variety of ethnicities all speaking the lyrical Welsh language. They were all getting a good, hearty British breakfast. It looked amazing, but I had already eaten breakfast at the hostel, toast and jam. I watched as the steam rose from the white tea someone had ordered. In searching over the menu, I discovered that old favorite from Warwick – the jacket potato. I had that big potato covered in cheddar cheese with a salad and a soda, and it was delicious. I went back the next day and had the exact same thing.