Maybe the solution to the challenge of simplifying Thanksgiving isn't to look for semi-homemade options, but to tweak the menu so that it requires less work to be fully homemade. What if, for example, you replaced mashed potatoes with perfectly baked, crusty-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside baked potatoes, served with lashings of butter and gravy?
Baking potatoes takes only a couple of steps and one of them is turning on the oven. And no messy pots and pans! If you did decide to make your potato dish easy and eliminate the mashing, you'd be smart to rely on Alton Brown's winning formula from I'm Just Here for the Food: Version 2.0. You'll end up with a potato worthy of your gravy and time to enjoy both.
The Perfect Baked Potato
- One baking potato
- Some vegetable oil
- A little kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Wash the potato with a vegetable brush and dry with paper. Use a fork to poke holes all over the potato surface. This will allow steam inside the potato to escape as it heats, which will result in a great fluffy texture. Pour a small amount of oil into a bowl, add the potato and turn until the entire surface is lightly coated. This not only makes for a slightly crunchy skin, it will regulate the moisture inside the potato. Sprinkle with the kosher salt.
3. Place the potato directly on the rack in the center of the oven. It should be fully cooked in about an hour. To check for doneness, give it a squeeze (wearing fireproof gloves). If the skin feels kind of crunchy but the middle feels tender, time to eat.