It seems that I always buy too many potatoes. I love them and think that I can go through the 5 pound bag before they start to wrinkle up and get those little root like growths. It always starts out with a few really good twice baked potatoes, a batch of potato soup, potatoes grilled with onion on the BBQ or a pan of parsley fried potatoes.
Put several weeks later I go to get a couple of my treasured potatoes to mix up with another meal and they’ve lost their charm.
So, I thought… why not bake up half a bag of those lovely large Idaho russets. Let them cool. Wrap each in parchment so that I could pluck one from the freezer when the time was right. Yesterday, I took two potatoes from the freezer, placed them still on the parchment, directly on a large cutting board. Several hours I took a break from my office to check on my thawing potatoes. There they were… resting on a layer of water that was dripping down the side of that large cutting board and leaving a layer of potato water on the counter. Had I brought out the entire batch of potatoes it could have created a mini water fall. The potatoes… they were mushy and spongy. I could have rung one out just like a sponge. Mushy mess to say the least.
This whole ordeal reminds me of the time that I ruined a perfectly good batch of banana bread by trying too hard. I foolishly decided that more was better. The batter was mixed, mixed again and mixed the dough with such vigor that when the little loaves were baked the bread never did rise or brown. They sort of looked like these lumpy baked potatoes.
Not to give up on my frozen bakers, I decided to take another potato from the cooler and try another method. That’s the potato below with the ice crystals already forming from it reaching the warm air. The oven was preheated to a hot, very hot 425 degrees and one treasured potato was placed in a ceramic baking dish. Just in case of the water fall theory, I used a dish with a one inch rim. This time the result was better but not still perfect. Or, even close to perfect. There was a slight layer of water in the bottom of the pan but the potato did not have the same mushy appearance while cooking. It did take me over an hour to heat/thaw the potato at this extreme temperature. It’s a good thing I had time to waste.
When finished in the oven at this Arizona Style temperature, the potato was baked crispy on the outside and baked almost through to the center. There was still a stringy mushy center so it should have stayed in the oven a bit longer. I almost hate to put my name on these pictures but I would hate for anyone else to get blamed. I still have at least a dozen more potatoes in the freezer so I’ve not given up the experiment. Next try will be with a lower oven temperature. Maybe.