Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Omega Potato (p. 40)

This is another one of Achewood's incredibly basic recipes. Do you know how to bake a potato? Of course you do. You don't need a book to tell you how to do it. And yet, I have to remember the key demographic for this cookbook- grown men who still wear baseball caps backwards and have Al Pacino posters on their walls, unframed. I suppose even the best of us (not that I think of myself as "the best") could use a refresher. And Pat's Omega Potato method is a little different from what I normally do, so what the hell?

The recipe calls for a hotter oven than I usually use, and a longer cooking time. Naturally, I was concerned about burning after the "Perfect Oven Fries" incident, but that wasn't the case this time. The real concern for me was that I wasn't supposed to do anything to the potato before putting it in the oven (aside from scrubbing, of course). I normally coat with olive oil and salt before cooking, and I also poke holes in the sides to prevent explosions. And that's where I had to draw the line. Pat specifically states not to do ANYTHING, including poking ventilation holes. I did a little research while the oven was preheating. There were several stories and message board comments that read, "I've cooked potatoes in the oven without poking holes for years without incident." Of course, the next sentence was invariably, "Until last night when a potato exploded, killing my wife and children" (ok, maybe it just made a mess of the oven, whatever). So, I made an executive decision and poked holes in the potato anyway. My oven's crappy enough without being caked in potato bits. An hour and a half at 500 degrees later, I had my potato.
I should start out by saying that there's not nearly as much of the dill and sour cream sauce as it looks like there is on that plate. It's a very thin spread, I was trying to be creative. The potato had what could almost be described as two skins. There's the outer skin, which was like I've had on every potato (maybe a little crunchier), and then there was a tougher inner skin. When I cut into it, I was afraid it felt incredibly tough and dry. I was surprised and delighted to find myself wrong. The starch inside was light and fluffy. I normally like butter and sour cream in my BPs (that's what the kids on the street call baked potatoes), but Pat's recipe recommended a few glugs of olive oil, so that's what I did. The flavor was nice, though I did end up putting a little sour cream in there, too. The bigger issue was that the crunchy skin of the potato was also apparently quite porous on the bottom. Within 5 minutes, I had a large puddle of olive oil under the potato. It eventually seeped all over the plate, getting on my salmon and mixing into the dill sauce. It didn't detract from the potato, but the potato is just a side and it did detract from the dish. Live and learn. So, nothing too difficuly, but I suppose there are people who could use a refresher on where babies and baked potatoes come from. It doesn't have to be fancy to be fun.


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