Jacket Potatoes

Remember, remember the fifth of November! Tonight is Guy Fawke’s Night, more commonly known these days as Bonfire Night in the UK. The infamous Guy Fawkes was at the helm of a plot to blow up the English Parliament in 1605, which failed spectacularly. Brits have celebrated ever since by burning effigies and exploding fireworks late into the night.¬†Though we have neither the bonfires nor the fireworks that our friends in the UK enjoy on November 5th, my husband still likes to celebrate his English roots in some small way, and good British food usually does the trick. Tonight he made one of our family’s favorite British treats, Jacket Potatoes.

Jacket Potatoes are really not much more than the standard baked potato we Americans already know and love, but the toppings tend to be a bit different. Our favorite combination is baked beans (British style, if they can be found), topped with shredded cheddar cheese and then some nice fresh coleslaw. It makes a very satisfying meal, and depending on the particular ingredients you use, it can be very healthy too.

To make the perfect baked potatoes, we use large russets, thoroughly rinsed and scrubbed with a brush. We poke them all over with a fork, then brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. It’s a good idea to make an extra potato just in case one ends up being unpleasant inside when you cut into it. The potatoes bake in the oven at 425 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours (it varies depending on the size). Once they are finished baking, the potatoes are cut lengthwise and opened up to receive the fillings. The potato skin, which happens to be the healthiest part, is slightly crispy and very flavorful–I eat it right along with the fillings.

Some other popular jacket potato toppings besides the ones mentioned previously are tuna salad or chili. Setting up a jacket potato bar with various toppings would be a great way to feed guests at a small party, or just a fun family meal.

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