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How to Bake a Potato

Learn the most basic way to cook a spud.

One potato. Start with the right potato. Traditional baked potatoes -- like the kind you’ll find on your plate at a steak house -- are russets. Big and brown, these babies turn crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside when baked. Select ones that are firm with only a few eyes (the little dimples where the sprouts form).

Two potato. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and move the rack to the center position.

Three potato. Clean the potatoes with cold running water and a stiff, bristly brush that will scrub off the dirt without taking off the skin. If you find any spots or bruises, cut them out and discard.

Four. Grab a fork and stab those spuds! Make about eight to 12 holes in each potato, but make sure to spread them out. Don’t forget this step: The tiny holes allow steam to escape from the potatoes while they cook so they don’t explode in your oven (yes, it can happen).

Five potato. Give the potatoes a quick rub in some olive oil, followed by a light dusting of kosher salt. This will soften the skins just enough for eating, while also adding some flavor.

Six potato. Place the potatoes directly onto the oven rack. (You can place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any spud drippings.) Cook up to four potatoes at a time for about 60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. The skin should be crispy!

Seven potato. Remove from the oven and slit open the top of each potato with a knife. Squeeze each end of the slit toward the middle to pop open the potato, exposing the fluffy white flesh inside. Be careful of the steam!

More! Serve your baked potatoes with a pad of butter, a dollop of sour cream and chives, shredded cheddar cheese, a scoop of chili or even as-is. Enjoy!

-- Paula Kashtan