On a cold day like today, a jacket potato is greatly comforting. A wonderfully fluffy potato encased in a crispy outer shell, with cracked black pepper and melting butter. Nothing could be better than that! Except, perhaps, a jacket potato that has been twice stuffed: the fluffy inner potato mixed with cheese, herbs and nuts and put back into the oven to bubble and brown. That could be better. A twice-stuffed jacket potato on the whole allows you to create a fuller flavour, that still offers itself as comfort food. Plus the opportunity for variety – simply cheese, tuna, tangy spring onion, colourful Mediterranean vegetables, or a fairly posh thyme and pine nut potato!
The secret to achieving the perfect potato is the cooking method. In days of yore, I used to wrap potatoes in foil, shove them in a hot oven and leave them until they felt soft inside. I was young and foolish then, but now when it comes to baking potatoes, I am content to consider myself only the former. Firstly, wrapping in foil. Don’t do that. I use Delia’s tip, and get brilliantly crisp skin each time – after pricking the skin, rub in olive oil and salt. Your hands definitely will be oily, but that’s nothing a bit of washing up liquid can’t fix, and it’ll all be worth it for that skin! And try to use sea salt rather than table – rather than an overall salty flavour, intermittently crunchy pieces of salt will alter the texture and taste. The heat of the oven and cooking time are also important. I prefer to cook my potatoes on a lower heat, for longer, giving them time to really cook to perfection.
- 1 large King Edward potato
- Cheese, grated
- Pine nuts
- Thyme, basil or both
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Cherry tomatoes, quartered
- A handful of spinach
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Prick the potato skin with a fork, then transfer to a plate. Drizzle over a little olive oil, and massage the oil into the skin of the potato. Sprinkle with salt, and then place in the oven.
- Turn the oven down to 160 degrees, and cook the potato for 1 hour 45 minutes – 2 hours, depending on the size of the potato, until its skin is crisp.
- Remove from the oven, and slice in half. Scoop out the potato flesh, and place in a bowl. Mix in the grated cheese, herbs, spinach and nuts. Season, and then stir again to ensure all the ingredients are combined with the potato.
- Replace the potato ‘flesh’ in the potato skin, and top with the cherry tomatoes. Put back in the oven, and bake for a futher 10-15 minutes, until warmed through, and the potato is crisp and golden on top.
- Serve with a tomato and balsamic vinegar side salad.