The first time I encountered the brilliant culinary pairing of baked potatoes and beef barbecue, I was at my church's Fall Gift Market. The Boy Scouts were serving lunch and, although the temperature outside was still in the 90's, I was in the mood for a baked potato. When I ordered my baked potato the nice young Boy Scout behind the counter said, "Would you like barbecue on top of that, Ma'am?" Only two months into my Texan experience, I still bristled just a bit whenever someone addressed me as Ma'am, but the fact that I was being offered flavorful tender meat as a potato topping caused me to warm up to it. I paused, having a 'why-didn't-I-ever-think-of-this' experience, and then answered, "Yes, I would love that!"
I immediately became a fan of baked potatoes topped with beef barbecue! The sweet, yet tangy flavor of the barbecue sauce is the perfect compliment to a fluffy baked potato. Also, the protein of the meat elevates the spud from skimpy side dish to hearty main course. I've since learned that the addition of beef barbecue to a baked potato does not stop some Texans from continuing to add other, more traditional, toppings such as cheese, sour cream, chives, jalapeños, and even butter. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the calorie count for a baked potato.
Having already mastered the art of preparing beef barbecue at home, I then set out to create the perfect baked potato. After interviewing friends and observing at restaurants, I devised my own fool proof method. I found that I didn't need to wrap the potatoes in foil, but could place them directly on the oven rack. I also discovered that rubbing the potatoes with olive oil and then rolling them in kosher salt adds more flavor and creates a nice crispy skin on each potato. For baking time, low and slow is the best.
It has been almost two years since I first encountered a baked potato smothered with a hearty dollop of beef barbecue. In that time, I've learned that being called Ma'am is quite nice, especially if it is by my own children. I've also found out that when I'm looking to lighten things up a bit, marinara sauce or salsa is an acceptable baked potato topping. Most of all, I've discovered that beef barbecue on a baked potato is amazing any day of the year.
Baked Potato Recipe
6 medium sized russet potatoes
6 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
toppings of your choice including, but not limited to, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, butter, salsa, jalapeño peppers, chives, beef barbecue
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Scrub and thoroughly dry 6 medium sized russet potatoes.
- Pierce each potato with a fork about a dozen times.
- Rub the potatoes with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil per potato. Then roll them in kosher salt, about a half a teaspoon of kosher salt per potato.
- When the oven is preheated, place the oiled and salted potatoes directly onto the center rack of the preheated oven. Place a sheet pan on the rack below the potatoes to catch any drips.
- Bake the potatoes for at least 90 minutes or until a knife is easily inserted into the potato.
- Removed hot potatoes from the oven and serve immediately or place them in a baking dish that has been lined with a clean dish towel and cover the entire dish with foil to keep the potatoes hot.
- To serve baked potatoes, take one potato at a time and firmly tap it on the kitchen counter. Gently slice along the long end of the potato and squeeze the two shorter ends.
- Serve with your favorite toppings.