I want to scream cheese sauce! It’s all about the cheese sauce! But there’s much more to it than that…
The humble jack potato is one of those dishes that unite everyone. Often one of the first meals a student learns to cook after flying the nest, the jacket potato is simple yet delicious and so loved by our nation that even restaurateurs like Nick Jones have tried putting their stamp on it.
Even so, there is surprisingly a lot of dispute about how to cook the perfect Baked Potato with Cheese. I’ve made many a jacket potato in my time, living off of the stuff when I was studying at university. With that in mind I think I’m pretty well placed to give my top tips for baking a potato.
But, for me there are just three fillings worthy enough to top a baked potato: 1.) cheese and lots of it; 2.) chilli con carne; and 3.) baked beans, for when I’m feeling really lazy!
If you follow these tips for picking out your potato, cooking a baked potato and then finally smothering it in the perfect cheese sauce you will have a winning combination! The Ultimate Baked Potato with Cheese.
Trust me. It won’t disappoint!
Which type of potato?
To be honest, you can walk into any supermarket and pick up something labelled a “baking potato”. This will do the trick. They are often perfectly fluffy with a creamy, and sometimes sweet, flavour.
If you don’t want any old generic potato, make sure you pick a Maris Piper or King Edward Potato. These are best for fluffy centre and crisp skins. But, Wilja, Ailsa and the Golden Wonder variety of potatoes are also good for jacket potatoes.
Stay away from waxy potatoes which don’t get a good, crispy skin. You want the soft, pillowy, floury kind.
To oil or not to oil? That is the question.
Personally I am in the no oil camp. All oiling a baked a potato does is add extra fat to the dish. And whilst I usually believe extra fat in most foods is a good thing – after all fat means flavour – it isn’t a great idea here.
Too much oil and you risk getting a soggy skin. If you use an oil with a low burning point (like olive oil) you also risk tarnishing your potato with an acrid, bitter taste if the oil catches.
The best way to prepare the skin of your baked potato is to give it a good rinse and roll it in course sea salt. Salt is a must to season your jacket potato so don’t skip this step!
The salt will also draw moisture from the potato giving a crispier skin.
What temperature should my jacket potato be cooked at and how long should I bake my potato for?
How long you cook your potato for really depends how patient you are. I’m not going to tell you that you can’t put your potato in the microwave. If you are in a rush 7-11 minutes depending on the size of the potato will do the trick, but you won’t get a crispy skin.
For the perfect baked potato, leave the microwave alone and instead, place it in the centre of your oven for an hour at 190C. For the last 15 minutes I reckon whacking the oven up to 220C to make sure it’s extra crispy.
Once the hour is up, give the potato a squidgy and it should be soft inside with a crisp and crusty shell.
If you happen to have an extra-large potato, leave it for 1hr 15mins before checking. If the potato is small, check it after 40mins. No two potatoes are the same!
Is my jacket potato going to explode?!
Now I don’t know about you but I have been aimlessly pricking my potatoes with a fork as long as I’ve been cooking them, and to be honest I had never really thought about why until I came to do some research for this post.
Supposedly if you don’t prick your baked potato before putting it in the oven the steam can’t escape and the potato will EXPLODE! There are some hilarious anecdotes out there on the internet and I urge you to go and find them.
I’ve cooked jacket potatoes a few times without pricking and haven’t had any problems yet. To be honest I couldn’t tell any difference between the pricked and un-pricked variety so I’d give your potato a good forking just to be safe!
There’s some suggestion that piercing the potato through the middle with a metal skewer will ensure more even heat distribution and help the steam to escape at the same time. It seems plausible enough, but cooking on a lower heat (190C as I suggest) for a slightly longer time seems to have the same effect. So don’t worry, there’s no need to go out and buy skewers. Your potato isn’t going to explode.
The best cheese topping for jacket potatoes in the world!
So, you’ve picked out your potato in the supermarket, rinsed it, rolled it in sea salt, given it a good forking and its now in the oven (unexploded) getting soft and crispy. What do you top it with?
Cheese is a classic jacket potato topping but this takes it to another level. Think Welsh Rarebit (or Welsh Rabbit) but with potato! Maybe we could call it Irish Rarebit (Irish Rabbit)?
Essentially, it is a 3 cheese sauce with a hint of mustard and chive. The buttery, sauce is incredibly luxurious and will take you from zero to hero in no time at all.
The Recipe: the Ultimate Baked Potato with Cheese.
- 40g butter
- 25g corn flour
- 1 pint milk
- 1 tsp. mustard (optional)
- 125g grated cheese (60g mature cheddar, 45g red Leicester and 20g double Gloucester)
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- In a heavy pan, melt the butter. Once the butter has completely melted stir in the four until a paste forms.
- Cook this gently over the heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly add the milk to the flour and butter paste trying to avoid any lumps. Whisking with a hand whisk can be helpful here.
- Once the milk and flour mix have fully combined, heat on a low heat for 5 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken and bubble gently.
- Add in the cheese and tsp of mustard. Stir until the cheese has melted completely and the mustard fully incorporated.
- Let the sauce bubble for another 5 minutes until thick and luxurious.
- Pour the source over your freshly baked potato and top with the chives
Don't forget to put your jacket potato in the oven while you're making the sauce!
There really is something incredibly satisfying about seeing the steam pour out of your hot jacket potato then drizzling a mountain of 3 cheese sauce all over it. Delicious!
So there we have it – if you follow the fail proof tips above, in no time you will have mastered the Ultimate Jacket Potato with Cheese!