April 11, 2011

Fast Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives

I'm kind of embarrassed even to post directions for these, because they're so simple.  For beginning cooks, this is a good thing to know how to make, though, so I'll forge ahead. 

If you're looking for a recipe that could also be used for an inexpensive, filling entree, you could do a lot worse.  These aren't maybe the healthiest potatoes, but they are great whether on their own or paired with a nice bit of steak.  You can top the baked potatoes with a variety of things, from broccoli and cheese to chili or taco meat.  They're a great Sunday night supper on their own, and because you're going to cook the potatoes in the microwave, making them won't heat up your kitchen.  

Today was almost 90 degrees out (in APRIL, so wrong!).  Spring was short-lived this year, sigh.  It was last Saturday, in case you're keeping track.   Although, this being Iowa, that could change at any time.

Fast Baked Potatoes

First, scrub the potatoes really well and rinse.  I've picked out the largest potatoes I could find at the market.

Then, since we're going to use the microwave, stick the potatoes all over with a fork.

Wrap up with some cling film, aka saran wrap.  Since it's just the two of us, I usually position the potatoes on the plate in a "T" shape.

The tricky part comes next, because you need to know if you have a full-powered microwave or not.  If you don't, you'll need to follow your own manufacturer's directions for cooking time.  Once you have it down, though, you are pretty much guaranteed perfectly cooked potatoes as long as you keep the size fairly consistent.  I cooked our potatoes for 10 minutes at full power.  A good rule of thumb is that when you start to smell cooked potatoes, they are nearly done.  To test for doneness, insert a table knife into the cooked potato.  It should slide right in if the potatoes are fully cooked.

While the potatoes cooked, I went out the back door to my little herb patch.  Chives are a perennial herb, and VERY easy to grow.  They are one of the first plants to green up as the weather warms towards spring.  This is an overhead view, along with my metal garden pig.  Kind of hard to tell he's a pig from this angle, but you can see the curly tail on the upper right.  The blue part is his wings. 

Another picture of the chives, this time close up:  They look a bit like thick blades of grass.

The easiest way to harvest chives is just to use cooking shears and lop off a chunk.  Then you'll need to rinse the chives (you can hold them in a bunch as you do this).  Pat them dry on a paper towel.  The easiest way to chop them is to snip them into small bits with your kitchen shears.  Much faster than using a knife, and no cutting board to wash either!

I like to leave the potatoes resting in the microwave until we're ready to eat.  Then using a hot mitt, peel off the cling wrap and put one on each person's plate.  Mash, add butter, sprinkle with black pepper to taste, and add sour cream and chives (or whatever topping you want) in the quantities of your choice. Yum!

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