What are they?
Ye olde baked potatoes, and they're back, hotter and steamier than ever. The only difference is they've escaped mum's kitchen and the hot-potato stall, and are turning up on fine-dining menus, hipster cafes and even ''healthy fast food'' franchises.
Where are they?
The baked potato, oozing with sour cream whipped with chives and a touch of garlic oil and wrapped in foil, is the most popular side dish at Nick Hildebrandt and Brent Savage Yellow bistro in Sydney's Potts Point. "We can't take it off the menu," says Savage. "Some people say they'd rather order our baked potato than a dessert."
At Single Origin Roasters Surry Hills flagship cafe, chef Tommy Prosser channels his British high school canteen lunches with the hearty Jacket Potato Flashback. "We bake the spuds, then scrape out the flesh and bake the shells again until crisp," he explains. "Then we fill them with creme fraiche, mascarpone and spring onions, and top them with house-made baked beans and crumbled cheese."
In Melbourne, Pope Joan chef Matt Wilkinson has joined forces with baked potato chain Spud Bar, now at 11 Victorian locations. "It's good to be able to bring ethically sourced beef, lamb and chicken to something seen as fast food," he says. The hot baked spuds are chopped and topped with beef bolognese, chilli beans with salsa and corn chips, or slow-cooked lamb shoulder with quinoa, spinach and carrot and cucumber yoghurt. And at home? "The best topping is whatever you have left over from last night's dinner," says Wilkinson.
Why do I care?
They're simple, nourishing, and relatively healthy, as long as you don't completely obliterate them with cheese.
Can I do them at home?
If you have a lazy hour, a spud, and something nice to put on it, you have dinner.
BAKED POTATO WITH SOUR CREAM AND PRAWNS
Inspired by the classic Maine lobster roll, I've swapped the roll for a baked spud and the lobster mayo for prawns in sour cream. Poach or steam raw green prawns yourself, or buy cooked prawns from the fishmonger.
4 large baking potatoes (such as sebago)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
12 tiger prawns, cooked and peeled
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp good mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp castor sugar
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 tbsp snipped chives
1 tbsp dill fronds
1. Heat oven to 200C. Scrub the potatoes and towel dry. Prick the skin lightly, coat in olive oil, and roll in sea salt. Bake directly on the rack in the centre of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until tender.
2. Beat the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, paprika, sugar, sea salt and pepper together, and add a dash of water if too thick. Cut the prawns into chunks if large.
3. Cut a shallow lengthwise wedge from the side of each potato, season the potato flesh and break it up with a fork. Lightly toss the prawns, chives and dill in the sour cream, pile on top of each potato and serve.
Single Origin Roasters, 60-64 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, 9211 0665, singleoriginroasters.com.au
Yellow, 57 Macleay Street, Potts Point, 9332 2344, yellowsydney.com.au
Spud Bar (11 locations around Melbourne), spudbar.com.au