I love a good jacket spud. I said this out loud as I typed it, and my admin assistant Caroline stopped chewing on the roll of Sellotape she was fastening a box of books with and groaned, ‘God, who doesn’t?’. Well, exactly. Soft fluffy potato mashed to a creamy pulp with a little fat and salt and pepper, and topped with whatever sloppy goodness you desire, all contained in a crisp chewy jacket, a treat right at the end. Jacket potatoes seem to have fallen out of fashion since my childhood back yonder, where we were served them with comforting regularity. My Dad, a foster carer, once described looking after additional children in our house as ‘being as simple as popping an extra spud in the oven’ – a phrase I lovingly disagree with; I can nurture a dozen potatoes at any given time, but children take slightly more work!
This potato is topped with my Umami Mushroom recipe from Cooking On A Bootstrap – there it is served with Moonshine Mash (a mixture of corn and potato, and both from tins), but it works absolutely beautifully here. If you want to up the protein content, simply add a can of black beans the same time as the mushrooms – which will double your recipe, too.
Serves 2 at 38p each
2 large potatoes, 25p (50p for 4, Asda)
1 small onion, 6p (59p/1kg, Farm Stores at Asda)
2 fat cloves of garlic, 6p (60p for 3 bulbs, Asda)
1 tbsp oil or butter substitute, 1p (97p/1l, sunflower oil, Asda)
150g fresh mushrooms, 34p (68p/300g, Farm Stores at Asda)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 5p (49p/150ml, Asda) – if you need gluten-free soy sauce, check the packaging as not all of it is. Tamari soy sauce is gf but costs a little more.
First turn your oven on to 180C and pop the spuds in.
Then make a mushroom stock by cutting off the stalks and popping them in a saucepan. Cover with a little water and bring to the boil.
Peel and finely chop the onion, and add a scant few pinches to the mushroom stock. Peel the garlic and add that too, either or in pieces, depending on if you can be bothered to chop it up. Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t, and in a recipe like this one it makes very little difference to the end result. Fling it in regardless. Reduce the pan to a simmer for 30 minutes, until the mixture is rich and dark and ominous looking. You may need to top it up periodically to stop it all from evaporating away, which would be a terrible shame! When the stock is ready, remove from the heat and pour it into a mug or a jug, and set to one side.
Toss the remaining onion into the now-empty saucepan with the oil or butter. Don’t worry about cleaning the pan, as any lingering flavours from the stock will only enhance the end result. Slice the mushrooms and add those too. Cook on a medium heat for a minute or two until the mushrooms and onion slightly soften, then pour over the stock. Cook for a few more minutes, stir through the soy sauce, and remove from the heat.
Remove your jacket potatoes from the oven and very carefully split them in half, watching for steam burns! Place each one in a bowl and prise open gently. Using the side of a teaspoon or a fork, scoop the potato innards out and mash them thoroughly with a little extra butter if liked. Top with the mushrooms, and serve.
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