Classic oven-baked potatoes make for a hearty side dish alongside plenty of meals, like steak, chicken, or chili. They also serve as an excellent base for a variety of toppings, allowing home cooks to customize their potatoes almost endlessly with seasonings, cheese, proteins, and more in order to make the baked potato the central part of the meal. In addition to being delicious, potatoes contain antioxidants, vitamins C and B6, potassium, and fiber, and as it turns out, baking them in their skins is a great way to help retain their nutritional benefits. Potato skins (and, more importantly, how they're treated) also help to explain the difference between conventional baked potatoes and jacket potatoes.
If you've come across recipes for these curious spuds, at first glance, it might seem like "jacket potato" is just another term for a baked potato due to their similar cooking methods. However, the reality is that two potato dishes are made in subtly different (yet majorly impactful) ways, yielding distinct end results. Baked potatoes are a little bit simpler to make, while jacket potatoes require some extra effort, which may be worth it -- especially if you like your potato skins extra crispy.
How They're Cooked Is Key
The standard baked potato is, as the name implies, baked. All you'll need to do to prep the food is wash the outside of the potato, prick it with a fork (so it doesn't explode), and spread some oil over the surface. Then, the potatoes can be cooked in the oven for about an hour or in the slow cooker if you don't mind waiting a little longer. Slice them open, and once they've cooled down a little, they're ready to eat right out of the skin.
Jacket spuds, however, require you to cut the potatoes before baking them. After rinsing under cold water, you'll want to take a knife and slice an "X" shape across the top lengthwise, which allows even more steam to escape. Then, you can place the potatoes in the oven to bake. After they're cooked through, you'll briefly pop them out of the oven to reopen the top of the potatoes with your knife. After baking for another 15 minutes, the potatoes can be removed from the oven and served.
Ways To Serve Jacket Potatoes
Although baked potatoes and jacket potatoes may seem similar, the crispy skin and ultra-fluffy interior mark the defining features of the latter. Regardless of how you prefer to bake them up, you can top either variety off with similar ingredients to upgrade potato night.
A light sprinkling of salt, pepper, and butter is a pretty standard option if you prefer to savor the flavor of the potato itself. If you're craving a cheesy flavor, layer some shredded cheese to melt while the potato is warm. Or, you can drizzle on some warm nacho cheese sauce with broccoli florets.
If you want to make the potato the star of your plate, try adding in some extra protein. You can sprinkle some bacon pieces over your shredded cheese, pour on Southwest chili, or add some beans. The next time you cook up some potatoes for dinner, try preparing them using the jacket potato method -- the super crispy skin could be worth the extra effort.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.