Phil Vickery gives energy saving tip for cooking potatoes
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During a recent episode, Phil spoke about having jacket potatoes for dinner regularly as a child. He shares his top tips for ensuring crispy skin, and how to reduce the amount of time the oven is on cooking the potato by using a teaspoon.
Phil said: “A couple of things to remember, yes they do take a bit of energy – and Alice [Beer, consumer editor] has already told me off for cooking them twice. [But] you can microwave them and finish them in the oven for a crispy skin.
“When you fill them and put them back in the oven, you don’t have to have the oven on, you can finish them under the grill to cut the energy down.
“Now, the thing to say also is – always, always, always use a sharp knife and score the potato around the outside [before you cook it] because they will explode otherwise.
“Sometimes, if you start potatoes in a cooler oven and [the temperature] gets hotter, it bakes the skin so tight they will expand and explode. Not all the time, but it does happen, so I always [score] them.
“I also put a teaspoon in the potato – not when cooking in the microwave – but [cooking the potato in] a conventional oven, it cuts the cooking time down by at least about 20 minutes.”
Presenter Phillip Schofield asked: “Is that because the spoon gets so hot the heat goes down the spoon [handle] and into the centre of the potato?”
“Yes,” Phil replied. “You can use ready-made jacket potato spikes and you put them on all four and into the oven, or you can use a skewer, but it certainly makes a difference.”
“So that will take it down from what time to what time?” Phillip wondered. The chef revealed: “I reckon it will take 15-20 minutes off the cooking time, so 35-40 minutes as opposed to an hour.”
“Can you do that with anything you put in the oven?” Holly Willoughby asked. “Yes, with root vegetables,” Phil said. “Things like lamb, the bone in the lamb, the heat transfers through the lamb. But metal certainly does.”
Before inserting a teaspoon handle into the jacket potato, you can blast the potato in the microwave to reduce cooking time further – remember no teaspoon in the potato if using the microwave as this is a health and safety risk.
Microwaves are the cheapest kitchen appliance to use in terms of energy usage, costing just 1p for three minutes based on the running for a 700W microwave.
Waitrose suggests using both the microwave and oven to cook jacket potatoes, and if done so in conjunction with Phil’s spoon hack, it can take just 20 minutes for a crispy, fluffy jacket potato in the oven.
Place the potato in the microwave on a plate on high for three minutes, then turn it over and microwave for another three minutes.
Transfer the potato to a baking tray, season with salt pepper and olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
If you also push a spoon inside the potato, this will speed up the cooking process in the oven even more.
The cooking times are dependent on the size of the potato; a bigger potato takes longer to cook.
As for whether you need to wrap the jacket potatoes in tin foil when placing them in the oven, one chef doesn’t recommend this.
“I see a lot of people using foil to wrap their potatoes in but this is a big no-no and causes soggy skins!” Chef Isaac Toups told Today.
Foil holds in moisture and steams the potatoes, resulting in a “boiled” taste and texture. Plus, without the use of foil, the skin will get extra crispy and flavourful.
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