Saturday, February 27, 2016

Crock-Pot "Baked" Potatoes

Learn this easy method for fixing

Let me introduce you to my new favorite way to batch cook potatoes for a variety of recipes without ever turning on your oven: crock-pot "baked" potatoes! 

This is a dead simple recipe...well, more like a technique, for cooking delicious potatoes with barely any effort. After only a few hours in the slow cooker on high (or twice as long on the low setting) you'll have a bundle of fork-tender potatoes for your next meal. 

Easy Slow Cooker Potatoes: Great For All Types of Recipes

I like to cook several potatoes at once, serve two of them loaded with toppings for dinner (classic baked potato style), then save the leftovers for stove-top breakfast potatoes, hot german potato salad, homemade baked potato soup, or kielbasa and vegetable soup (just drop the cooked spuds in at the end).

Or, when I'm in the mood for mashed potatoes instead of baked potatoes, I'll mash them directly in the slow cooker after they finish cooking, stir in my favorite mix-ins like pastured butter, sour cream, coconut milk and/or chicken broth + seasonings, then serve them immediately with a main dish like whole roasted chicken or pan-fried burgers.

Does slow cooking require a teensy bit of forethought? Yes, but that's about it! Imagine not having to crank on the oven and wait and hour or longer to bake your potatoes. Or, not having to wait for the water to boil so you can fix mashed potatoes. Or, having to pull out any extra ingredients to prep the potatoes. Not even oil or salt & pepper. Sounds awesome, right?

And if you're one of those lucky folks who owns more than one slow cooker, you can even prep your main course in one crock-pot (like a pot roast, for example) and these potatoes in another and have dinner ready in minutes! Of course, a Dutch Oven or French Oven works, too. Lots of options!

Learn this easy method for fixing

How Do These Compare to Potatoes Baked in the Oven?

The difference is subtle, but these crock-pot potatoes have a slightly more concentrated taste, probably from the longer cooking time. Some describe it as nutty, but I wouldn't go that far. Unless you plan on eating them plain, you shouldn't be able to tell the difference (it's not that apparent, in my opinion) once mixed with seasonings and toppings. 

However, if you leave them in the slow cooker for an extra two hours past being done (easily pierced with a fork), the interior will darken significantly and they may taste "off". So...don't overcook them!

Should You Wrap The Potatoes in Foil?

Seems like a personal preference. I've seen a ton of recipes online that call for wrapping potatoes in foil first before sticking them in a slow cooker, but honestly...I have no idea why they're doing it! 

It seems (to me) like a pretty unnecessary and wasteful step, since the potatoes bake just fine without it. Feel free to leave a comment if you know more about the science behind it, as I'd love to learn why folks are using it. :)

Learn this easy method for fixing

Crock-Pot "Baked" Potatoes
Learn this easy method for fixing "baked" potatoes in your slow cooker so you don't need to turn on the oven! Even better, use the leftovers for quick & simple recipes like potato salad, soup, and breakfast potatoes.

8 medium-sized waxy potatoes* (like Yukon Gold or red potatoes)

Note: You should be able to use different sized potatoes and/or different varieties of potatoes (like baker potatoes); however, this may affect the overall cooking time. Just keep an eye on them so they don't overcook and plan on extra time if they are larger. 

Recommended Equipment
slow cooker (I have THIS ONE and LOVE it)

Rinse and scrub the potatoes well, making sure to remove any dark spots, and dry with a towel. Poke each potato 5-6 times with a fork (to let the steam escape as they bake) and place in a flat layer inside the slow cooker. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork or knife. 

Notes & Tips
  • In case you were wondering, you don't need any liquid or oil for the potatoes; however, if you wanted to rub the potatoes down with your favorite cooking oil and add seasonings, you're totally welcome to; it's just not necessary.
  • The bottoms of the potatoes might get a little crispy when you cook it on high. I'm okay with that (in fact, love the extra crispiness). Just thought you'd want to know. :)
Learn this easy method for fixing "baked" potatoes in your slow cooker so you don't need to turn on the oven! Even better, use the leftovers for quick & simple recipes like potato salad, soup, and breakfast potatoes.

I'd like to hear from YOU!

What's your favorite way to incorporate baked potato into a recipe? Do you have a favorite way to use up the leftovers?

Learn this easy method for fixing

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