Baked potato makers have long been tempted by the microwave. It's just so much faster. But as we all know, an oven-baked potato is far superior, especially because of its crispy exterior. As I've stated here on The Sporkful, I will permit partial use of the microwave to cook a potato halfway before finishing it in the oven, when time is really a factor. Of course it's not as good as the oven variety, but it's better than starving.
But Eater Mark says he has a technique for microwaving a baked potato that results in crispy skin. Wash the potato, and poke holes in it. Then, follow his instructions:
While the potato is still moist from rinsing, dredge the potato in kosher salt so the entire surface is covered in a dense layer of salt. Don't worry about and excessive salty flavoring, or a low sodium diet, you can brush off most of the salt after you finish cooking. The salt serves two purposes in cooking the potato. One, it draws water out of the skin and from just below the skin surface and absrob excess moisture as it escapes the potato as it cooks. Secondly, the microwaves will actually heat up the salt crystals to a higher temperature than the potato itself, allowing for a crispy skin layer to develop on the potato.
I have a full powered microwave and usually cook on high for about 10 minutes. This will vary by microwave and by size and number of potatoes, you'll have to use trial and error to optimize this for your needs. The potato will be done when the skin layer has begun to separate from the meat below AND when you gently squeeze it, you will feel the meat of the potato start to fracture straight through. But wait, here is the most important step in ensuring a fluffy, tasty interior to your potato. At this point, leave the potato in the microwave and close the door. Like a good steak, the potato needs to rest 3 to 4 minutes, allowing the heat to evenly dissipate throughout the potato and for an even breakdown in it's cellular structure. After the resting period, brush off any excess salt and enjoy!
Thanks Mark, for sharing this concept, I look forward to trying it. And eaters out there, if you give it a whirl, let me know how it goes!
Photo: Flickr CC / cookipedia