There are few meals more comforting than the humble jacket potato, which works just as well as a warming lunchtime treat as it does as a simple TV dinner — and when they’re good, they’re really good.
I myself have only enjoyed a few 10/10 baked potatoes in my time, but I’m always looking for the ideal balance of crispy skin and velvety mash.
With that in mind, I decided to try four popular baked potato methods to see which ones are the cheapest to make — and which ones would taste the best.
I usually opt for a large baked potato and smother it in olive oil and crispy sea salt after giving it a few deep fork jabs. Then I turn on the oven timer for about an hour and ten minutes, wrapped in a tight layer of aluminum foil.
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Well, I’ve recently been told that my use of aluminum foil is practically sacrilegious, as it gives the skin a bland, muted texture and the overall dreary feeling of being cooked.
Curious about how to enhance my jacket potato, I tried four popular approaches: baked with tinfoil, baked without tinfoil, boiled and then baked and — gasp — zapped in the microwave.
The potatoes came from the exact same 39p Morrisons pack, each filled with an identical and unbeatable filling of butter, cheddar, sour cream and a drizzle of Tabasco.
The differences at the end were quite noticeable.
Zapped into the microwave
Advice varies from seven to 12 minutes, with some suggesting turning it halfway. I was skeptical at first, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it cooked through after just eight minutes on a high.
I cut into my zapped tatty with ease, but it wasn’t quite loose enough for my personal taste, so I gave it a few extra minutes before tucking in.
Thankfully, it was hot right away, although it wasn’t quite as crispy on the outside as I’d hoped.
It wasn’t quite as cotton candy soft either when I dug deeper where the flesh was a little firmer but not noticeably. Still, this was more than ideal for a quick lunch on the go, and I wolfed down every time-saving bite.
According to figures from Sust-it’s microwave oven electricity cost calculator, it costs just over 5p to zip a spud into the mic for ten minutes, making this a more energy-efficient approach.
Boiled and then baked
Many baked potato enthusiasts swear by this method, claiming that it helps loosen the skin and produces a satisfying crisp like no other.
For this one, I followed the wisdom of food blogger The Foodie Patootie, who shared a recipe for boiled baked potatoes back in 2014 for National Potato Day.
After 10 minutes of cooking, I put my potato in the oven at 220 degrees and seasoned it extra after ten minutes. By this point it had darkened considerably compared to the others and I naturally assumed it would cook through fairly quickly.
However, after another 20 minutes had passed, I was surprised at how difficult it was to cut into, so I threw it back in the oven for ten minutes, then another ten.
Various recipes suggest between 20 and 40 minutes, and I’d say go longer if possible. Mine was nowhere near fluffy after a few extra rounds in the oven, although the skin did crisp up nicely and vigorous pureeing and lots of butter softened it up a bit.
Lots of people rave about the cooked first batch, but I personally didn’t taste any particular benefits and just faced a little more washing up.
On average it costs around 4 to 8.5p to use a hob for ten minutes and around 50p to use the oven for half an hour. This, of course, is before you even consider boiling the kettle, which could cost up to 42p per boil for a 3kW kettle.
Wrapped in a small tinfoil coat
For this one, I used my old tried and true approach of beating it in a preheated oven for an hour and a half, lowering the temperature slightly after half an hour.
Well, that was a perfectly okay jacket, but if eaten next to the one I slipped in naked when it was dug up, it didn’t stand a chance. This was a much paler, harder mashed potato than the no-foil option, and it lacked the same subtle but distinctive flavors.
In short, it wasn’t nearly the worst baked potato I’ve ever eaten, but it didn’t make me smile and it didn’t score too well in terms of fluffiness or crispiness.
Unfortunately, according to renewable energy engineer and inventor Robert Mackay, “there’s no cheap way to cook a jacket potato,” with the answer being “cook as many as the oven will hold (50). “.
With a 1 hour 15 minute cook time you’ll be spending around £1 and while you might not be able to digest 50 potatoes it’s worth considering popping all the tatties at once.
While I went with my tried and true timings of old, I found these to be significantly darker, crunchier than the tinfoil version, and far more special.
The meat yielded beautifully under my fork, like an airplane flying through a cloud. It was fluffy in a dream potato sort of thing, a feather-light, flavorful jacket that I could have enjoyed with or without toppings. Pure bliss and truly heavenly.
This superior potato was the equivalent of my belly wrapped in my coziest blanket, slippers on, and my beloved pet on my lap. I’ll keep my aluminum foil in the drawer in the future.
Again, this costs just over £1 to bake to perfection.
Final Verdict .
Unfortunately, the boiled-then-baked method left me with a cold, boring, tricky, and far less satisfying baked potato than the others—and it wasn’t particularly cheap.
Surprisingly, the wallet-friendly micro-zapp potato was the second best of the bunch, surpassing my previously tried tinfoil option in flavor and texture. Obviously I made a big mistake for years.
The winner here was undoubtedly the untin-foil jacket potato, which I’m craving again now, even though I’ve just ripped off four full jackets…
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/i-tried-four-different-ways-26687278 "I've tried four different ways to cook a jacket potato and the cheapest wasn't the worst."