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How many ways can you bake a potato?

I love baked potatoes. Smothered in butter and sour cream, or cheese and broccoli, or bacon bits, they are a great side for dinner or a warm and tasty lunch. Sometimes, however, I want to elevate my baked potato game. Here are some ways to make the traditional baked potato a bit fancier, a bit tastier, and perfect for entertaining.

 ShutterstockPotato Fans (or, Hassleback Potatoes)

Cutting your potatoes into fans, brushing them with oil, and then baking, is an artistic and delicious way to serve a baked potato. The Pioneer Woman offers a basic recipe, along with a nice how-to slice your potatoes open without cutting them into pieces. My favorite recipe, though, is from Cook’s Country: Slice open your potatoes, bake, and then add the best bread crumb-cheese-spice mixture on top for an extra cheesy crunch. One tip: microwaving your potatoes before baking them lets you reduce the oven time and ensures that you get crispy potato skin with a fully cooked, melt-in-your-mouth interior.

Twice Baked

Also billed as Potato Skins, this recipe calls for you to bake your potatoes not once, but twice. Bake a potato, cut it in half, and scoop out the inside. Mix the innards of your potato with any number of ingredients, from cheese to bacon bits to scallions to sour cream, spoon it back into the potato skin shells, and bake again. Ooey gooey and delicious. 

Salt Crusted and Salt Baked

Salt and potatoes go hand in hand. The addition of salt makes the flavor of potatoes shine, adds a crunch, and is overall delicious. You can use salt to bake your potatoes in two different ways. The first involves creating a salt crust that surrounds your potato. Brush an egg white mixture (or just some olive oil) all over your potato and then roll the potato in Kosher salt. The salt will stick to the potato skin. Bake as usual, and you’ll end up with a super salty, crunchy exterior and a fluffy, delicious interior.

If you want to use salt but not end up with quite so salty of an end product, try salt baked potatos. Fill a baking dish with a thick layer of salt (and a few sprigs of rosemary and/or heads of garlic), nestle in your potatoes, and bake at a high temperature, covered with aluminum foil. Uncover for the last 10-15 minutes of baking. The salt captures any moisture lost from the potato during baking, leading to a fluffier, lighter inside with a crunchy delicious skin.

Smashed

Love salt and vinegar potato chips? Then this is the recipe for you. Instead of using russet potatoes, boil small red skinned potatoes in highly salted water until soft, then let dry. Smash on a baking sheet, drizzle with malt vinegar and roast in your oven until the potatoes are crispy, cruncy, salty, vinegary and delicious.

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