Smoked Gouda Baked Potato

The key to really good baked potatoes is how you cook them. It’s true you can microwave a baked potato -and I’ve done it before myself- but that’s not going to taste nearly as good as baking them properly, so they come out with that crusty, salted potato skin.

Ingredients
4 Idaho potatoes
Butter or spray oil
1 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
2 TBSP chopped chives
Salt and pepper
Optional: 1/2 cup cooked bacon

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash or scrub the skin of your potatoes very well and poke holes in them with a fork, about 8 pokes on each side. Pat dry, then coat with melted butter, or spray with one of those aerosolized cans of extra virgin olive oil (or any oil). Salt and pepper all sides of the potato and place in the oven. You can put them directly on the rack, with a heat resistant oven liner on the bottom. Alternatively, you can place the potatoes directly on a cookie sheet. Roast at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. At that point, take the potatoes out, and re-baste them with more butter (or oil) and put them back into the oven upside down so the other side will cook. Bake them for an additional 25 – 30 minutes (or more) until they are soft inside.

HINT: If you are in a huge hurry, and guests are arriving, and the potatoes aren’t done (this happened to me once!) you can finish cooking the potatoes sooner by taking them out of the oven and microwaving them for a minute or two. It will not change the deliciousness of the outside skin if you do this.

Remove the baked potatoes and split them oven, then dress them with freshly shredded gouda cheese. Sprinkle bacon and chopped fresh chives on top. If you don’t like chives, you can use parsley, thyme or green onion.

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