Jacket Potatoes - Great Use For Canned Tuna Or British Abomination?

When imagining the perfect baked potato, a few ingredients come to mind as possible toppings — butter, bacon, and cheese are typical American go-tos. But some would likely never cross your mind as being appropriate for your delicious baker. TikTok user @ebbymoyer recently went viral with one such example; she tells viewers about her experience making this staple British food that, because it's topped with a generous helping of tuna fish salad laced with corn kernels, ends up being more of an entree than a side. 

While this may not be the most common topping for a jacket potato (that's beans), it is one way the Brits do up their spuds. After WWII, folks in the U.K. needed to stretch their food budgets, similar to Americans in the Great Depression. Some of the best comfort foods are born out of necessity, and the jacket potato is a perfect example. Taking a humble ingredient and making the most of it is what the jacket potato is all about, and it's steeped in a rich tradition there. 

History of jacket potatoes

The jacket potato has been a staple of the British diet for quite some time. Some estimates suggest that by the mid-19th century London, street vendors were selling upwards of 10 tons of jacket potatoes daily. These crispy cousins of the American baked potato were typically served on Guy Fawkes night, a celebration held on November 5th that recognizes the failed assassination attempt on King James I in 1605. Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Night as it's also known, is often celebrated with fireworks and bonfires, and jacket potatoes were wrapped in foil and cooked in the burning embers before being enjoyed by celebrationgoers.

Today, jacket potatoes aren't typically sold by street vendors, but they are still a popular menu item at chain restaurants in the U.K. However, you don't need to travel across the pond to try one. Making a jacket potato is really no different than making its American counterpart. With a couple of simple adjustments, you will be experiencing an entirely different potato than you're used to.

Make jacket potatoes at home

When making a jacket potato at home, start by taking a decently sized washed russet and slicing a cross pattern into the top — about a quarter inch deep. Heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the potato on the top rack. Unlike a regular baked potato, you don't want to wrap it in foil because it will steam the potato, resulting in a less crispy skin. 

The key to a good jacket potato is getting it nice and crispy, so you want to bake it for up to 2 hours. After that time, carefully take the potato out of the oven with tongs and slice it into the cross pattern again, making the cut deeper and opening the potato a bit more. Put it back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes, and soon, you'll have fluffy potato meat cased in a crispy brown jacket of skin.

The only thing left to do at that point is top it with your favorite fixings. You can follow @ebbymoyer's lead and load it up with tuna salad, or you can go a more traditional English route and pile on some baked beans and cheese. If you take the extra time to cook your spud jacket-style, you will be happy with any topping you add as you enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth texture.

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