Use potatoes of any size for this recipe, but make sure they are russets, which bake up nice and fluffy and starchy. Potatoes weighing 6 to 8 ounce will take 35 to 45 minutes, while potatoes between 14 and 16 ounces can take an hour or longer.
- 1 or more russet potatoes
- Vegetable oil, olive oil, or bacon grease, as needed
1 Preheat the oven: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400°F.
2 Wash and dry the potatoes: Wash the potatoes and dry them with a kitchen towel. If they have big eyes or tiny sprouts, dig those out (the tip of a potato peeler is the best tool for the job).
3 Poke steam holes: Poke each potato all over 10-12 times with a dinner fork. Don’t be afraid to really get in there; drive the tines about an inch into the potato.
4 Grease and season the potatoes: Rub the potatoes with the oil or bacon grease. You can eyeball this amount, but 1/4 teaspoon per potato should do it. They should be a little slick, but not dripping with grease.
Rub as much salt as you like on the skins. A lot of it will fall off, but it makes the potatoes sparkle!
5 Bake the potatoes: Set the potatoes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet (or, if your oven racks are clean, directly on the rack). The rack helps air circulate for even baking. If you are baking a lot of potatoes, don’t crowd them on the baking sheet; they’ll steam if crowded.
Bake until you can easily slide a fork or skewer into the center of the potato, 30 to 60 minutes. The baking time will depend on the size of your potatoes. They’re done when the skins are slouchy and wrinkled. You may even hear a slight hissing sound, or see tiny bubbles coming from one of the poke holes. If you squeeze one, it should yield to the pressure of your fingers easily, and quite likely crack open a little. If the potato is still hard, keep baking it until it’s done.
6 Serve: To serve, prick the center of a potato with a fork and pry it open to expose its crumbly and fluffy flesh. Season and top as you like, and dig in!