Thanks all for the good suggestions. I ended up coating the potatoes in oil, sprinkled some kosher salt, and pierced each spud several times with a fork. Then placed them directly on the oven rack (not wrapped in foil) and baked them at 400 for 50 minutes.
I was pleased with the finished product. My only regret is that I didn’t purchase the potatoes myself, as I would have gotten Russet potatoes. Instead, Mrs. Cardigan picked up some Idaho potatoes at the store. I like a crisp skin, and I wonder if Russets might deliver a little more crispness. In any event, I’ve concluded I prefer the texture of baked potatoes to that of potatoes cooked in a microwave. Microwaved potatoes have the advantage of speed/time, but if I’ve got the time available, I’m going to bake my potatoes from now on.
When I’m grilling (which we did a couple of weeks ago in the cold Northeast) I don’t have time to dick around with baked potatoes. I cook them in the microwave and in the last 10 minutes when the garlic bread is heating up, put them on the oven rack for a crispier skin. The. End.
I must be missing something because I don’t see how this is less dicking around. The other method is to preheat the oven (which you still are doing), wait for the beep, poke some holes, drizzle some oil, put them in and tell Alexa to set a 1 hour timer. Then I walk away for an hour or so and have all that time to tend to grilling. Your method involves all the oven steps and adds microwave steps to the mix.
IANAC, but I find that baking potatoes turn out just fine by plunking them in the oven after washing – that’s the extent of the prep. Microwaving is absolutely a last resort, although leftover halves with crispy skins from proper baking do well being reheated in the microwave, then treated to a big dollop of butter on top and anything else you might want to put on, like sour cream and chives or, if you don’t have chives, finely chopped green onion.
My currently favorite form of baked potato is the mini-potato, which come in various types and are usually pre-washed and bagged. My recipe for elegant-looking crisp roast mini potatoes is to toss them in a plastic bag with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of Herbes de Provence, then plunk them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in about a 400F oven for around half an hour.
I usually make lots because leftovers keep well and are perfectly fine for an almost-instant addition to future meals. You can even have them for breakfast – cut them in half and quick-brown in butter or oil in a hot frying pan, serve with bacon and eggs in place of hash browns.
Have baked a few spuds in my time and this has happened to me, albeit just once, so I do take the precaution of stabbing them just a couple of times. The operative word is “explode”, it was pretty dramatic and involved some post-cooking oven clean-up.
Otherwise yeah, as most people have said, just shove 'em in the oven. Although I have used the method of starting off in the microwave, then crisping up in the oven, and to be honest I can’t really tell the difference from the oven-only method, so I tend to do that to save a bit of electricity.
I’ve cooked probably a thousand baked potatoes. I usually poke them, but sometimes I’m lazy. I had one explode, so now almost always poke them. It is not a myth, and if you are a restaurant making dozens a day you’d be wise to poke them.
I don’t poke holes, but I scrub my potatoes extensively, which (hopefully) adds to the same thing. I will cook at whatever temperature whatever else in my oven is cooking, from a minimum of 325°F (163°C) up to 450°F (232°C), adjusting cooking time. Your potato is done at 210°F (99°C), and because I don’t always use the same temperature oven or grill, I do check their temperature. Different sized potatoes cook at different rates, also. I only add oil and salt to the exterior in the final 10-15 minutes of cooking. This crisps the skin without making it too leathery. Lastly, I vent the potato as soon as it comes off of the heat - just a few fork pokes to let steam escape and keep the spud fluffy.