Salt scrubs: They're not just for spa day anymore. Rub a gritty mixture of salt and water on your potatoes before baking for clean, tender, flavorful skins.
Institute of Culinary Education chef-instructor Joshua Resnick explained the method to Real Simple: "Add a good amount of salt and enough water to make a loose paste, and then just use your hands to rub the salt all over the potatoes." When finished, remove the excess with a paper towel until the skin is clean and dry. Your potatoes are ready to season — Resnick recommends fine sea salt and any oil with a high smoke point — and bake.
This might sound like a lot of work for a simple baked potato. After all, you can just stick one in the oven, wait an hour or so, and get a perfectly decent result. You can — but you shouldn't. One extra minute of work could result in cleaner, crisper, tastier potatoes out of the oven.
Read more: 8 Baking Sheet Mistakes You Want To Avoid
Why A Salt Scrub Can Result In A Better Baked Potato
Adding the salt scrub step to your prep helps you avoid common baked potato pitfalls — like dirty skin. To state the obvious, no one wants to bite into dirt. The friction of the salt scrub dislodges stubborn debris a quick rinse might miss.
Second, a salt scrub may improve potato skins' texture. According to chef Joshua Resnick, it tenderizes the skin. After all, salt chemically tenderizes other vegetables — why not potatoes? Sodium makes pectins dissolve more easily, which can result in softer veggies. But even when boiling for several minutes, the difference in texture between salted and unsalted vegetables is subtle. It's hard to say whether any cell walls are breaking down during a 30-second salt scrub. Another possibility is that salt physically removes a thin outer layer of potato skin, leaving a softer exterior behind. Finally, scrubbing the skins with salt leaves behind a thin layer of seasoning, which is never a bad thing.
More Tips For A Great Baked Potato
If you're willing to pamper your baked potato with a salt scrub, why not try a few other tips and tricks? It might take a little longer, but you'll end up with an even better baked potato. Before you get cooking, make sure you have the right potato variety. Waxy potatoes are great, but starchy potatoes are better for baking. Swap your reds for russets.
If you've picked up aluminum foil, put it down. Wrapping up your baked potatoes can give them soggy skins. Leave them naked.
Once you have a perfectly baked potato, the real fun begins. It's time to add toppings. Celebrity chefs elevate their baked potatoes with everything from whipped feta (Ina Garten) to chorizo (Aarón Sánchez). Then again, if you've followed these steps, you should have a fluffy, flavorful baked potato. You can safely stick to butter, salt, and pepper — it shouldn't need anything else.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.