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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hot Potato Trick

by Kate
Living the Frugal Life



We grew 100 pounds of potatoes in 2009. A fair portion of them are still in our garage. We'll continue eating them up over the winter, aiming to have none left by the time the weather warms up and signals them to begin sprouting.

With so many potatoes available, you can be sure I feel some urgency about using them up. We eat them often. Anytime I fire up the oven to do any baking, I scrub a few potatoes and slip them in there to piggyback on whatever else I'm cooking. That just makes good sense to me, getting the most out of an appliance that uses enormous amounts of energy. But there's a little trick I use when baking potatoes that I thought was worth passing on.

Metal skewers for shish kabob or grilling help baked potatoes cook through faster. I always use these unless I know the oven's going to be on for a really long time anyway. I have found that a large potato is done about 10 minutes sooner when pierced by a skewer than when left alone. This is especially useful when I want to bake potatoes of different sizes. I use my skewers on the largest ones, and they all cook in the same time. It's also handy for potatoes of any size if the main dish in the oven is only going to take 30 minutes to cook. As a rule of thumb, potatoes take 45-60 minutes to bake in the oven. If I skewer the potatoes and put them in the oven as it warms up, and leave them in the oven as it cools down, most of them can still finish with a quick-cooking dish.

When using this trick, don't crowd the potatoes too tightly on the skewer. The reason this works is because the metal will conduct the heat of the oven into the center of the potato. But if the entire skewer is buried in one potato after another, it won't work. Space your potatoes out on the skewers, leaving a few inches between each one. If you don't have enough skewers for all the potatoes you want to cook, put the largest ones on the skewers first. The smaller ones will cook faster anyway.

I usually don't have anything specific in mind when I piggyback baked potatoes in this way. If need be, cooked potatoes will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. They're a great basis for soup, where the distinctive baked potato flavor will do far more for the soup than simply simmering raw cubed potatoes in broth. They're also likely to end up in a dish of pyttipanna, or Spanish tortilla de patatas, hash browns to go with breakfast, or simply as potato salad.

I love frugal hacks like this one. Have you got any to share? Let us know in the comments, please!

13 comments:

Hana_Caena said...

Pyttipanna is a delight to eat.
Pickeld Beetroot and a fryed egg with it- mjumm!
You can even make a kind of a stew with it by drissling over cream and letting it cook to a thick sause..

(greetings from Sweden)

Penniless Parenting said...

I need some metal skewers. Too bad all mine are wood...

www.PennilessParenting.com

Maureen said...

Great idea....I love the thought that I would be getting double duty out of the oven....thanks!

Jess @ Openly Balanced said...

What a great trick! When you use them for a base in soups, do you cube them or mash them in to thicken the broth? (Or both?)

Farmer's Daughter said...

Neat trick! Plus a lesson on conduction and convection :)

Dave said...

Great idea! Now to find some metal skewers.

Susan said...

Great tip! My family always used new, clean nails ("ten penny" I think??) to the same effect.

If you're looking for metal skewers check local thrift shops; I see frequently see little bundles of them at these stores.

xox,
Susan

Felicia said...

That is soooo cool!!

Kate said...

Jess, I do either: mashing or cubing, as the mood strikes me. The skins won't break down as well as a those from boiled potatoes will, so cubes are a bit neater in terms of the skin.

Karen said...

Why didn't I think of this for potatoes? We eat a lot of beets, and I throw some in to roast every time I bake - I put them in while the oven is warming, and by the time my scones are done and the oven is cooled again, I have roasted beets with no extra energy wasted. Move over, beets, you've got company in the oven.

Serena's Secret Gardens said...

I was stuck about what to cook for dinner tonight....not anymore.

Cheers!

livinginalocalzone said...

Great idea! Like you, I'm eating potatoes very often just about now - this method of preparing them brings some great variety, and it looks really easy.

Angela said...

It takes my oven about 8 minutes to come to temperature - so I put the spuds in the microwave whilst the oven is heating - THEN put them on the metal skewers and into the hot oven. The m-waving makes a great reduction in cooking time, and is therefore a good way of saving energy.