Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

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Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:50 pm

When I was small and wanting to learn to cook, my mom had certain things that she was adamant about, one being that I must poke the baking potato with a sharp knife prior to baking. She would ask me if I poked them because she did not want the potatoes exploding in her oven. To this day, I still poke them. Do you poke your potatoes, is is really necessary? I recently read an article that says it is not and is really an old way of thinking.

The other nonsense....I buy San Marzano whole canned tomatoes. They are always in my pantry and I use them frequently. I drop them into the pan, they quickly cut with my cooking scissors. Last year, I watched a cooking show where the whole tomatoes were dumped into the pot to make Spanish Rice. Each person was served a pretty portion with one or two whole tomatoes. It looked nice but I kept thinking the cook was being lazy. Recently, I have seen two recipes in magazines calling for whole tomatoes, with no mention of breaking them down. Yesterday, I caught an episode of Ina Garten making a company stew which was so pretty, it had me thinking about it all day. Again, she simply dumped the whole tomatoes into the pot. I could not tell, if at the end, the tomatoes broke down. I know this is a matter of preference depending on what you are cooking, but have you ever used the tomatoes whole in something you've made?
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Carrie L. » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:03 pm

No, I don't poke and I've never had a potato explode in the oven. And I bake them a very long time until the exterior gets extremely crusty. My pet peeve is when people wrap potatoes in foil before they bake. Ugh, it steams them. The worst.
I can't stand a whole tomato in a pot of stew or other dish. I always break them down with a wooden spatula.
My other pet peeve is when people don't spread butter, mayonnaise, or other type of bread spread all the way to the edge of a piece of bread, or when a sandwich is made with the mayo only on one piece of bread and not the other.
Sorry this turned into a peeve session! :)
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:58 pm

Carrie L. wrote:No, I don't poke and I've never had a potato explode in the oven. And I bake them a very long time until the exterior gets extremely crusty. My pet peeve is when people wrap potatoes in foil before they bake. Ugh, it steams them. The worst.
I can't stand a whole tomato in a pot of stew or other dish. I always break them down with a wooden spatula.
My other pet peeve is when people don't spread butter, mayonnaise, or other type of bread spread all the way to the edge of a piece of bread, or when a sandwich is made with the mayo only on one piece of bread and not the other.
Sorry this turned into a peeve session! :)

I feel the same way about the spreading of butter on bread....I want whatever I am spreading to be all the way to the edge of both slices of bread, even peanut butter, tuna salad or any filling has to be to the edge.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:27 am

I generally poke potatoes but I really can't imagine them exploding in the oven. I also am not thrilled with the baked-in-foil versions, but I still like them a lot. There's not much you can do to a baked potato to make me dislike it.

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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Brian K Miller » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:29 pm

This may be heresy to ask this question, but I am a lazy bachelor, so...what about poking potatoes when you microwave them?
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby John Treder » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:15 pm

I poke potatoes before baking. I've seen two unpoked ones pop in the oven over the last 30 years or so. I also rub bacon grease on the skin before baking.

I can't think of a dish where I'd want whole canned tomatoes. Probably just my cranky old geezer perspective.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:37 pm

Thinking about this, I guess I poke potatoes with a fork instinctively, without really thinking about it, but it never occurred to me as an anti-explosion practice. I always thought it somehow helped speed the heat inside and make the thing cook more evenly, or something. :oops:
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Jenise » Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:45 pm

Robin, nope, the only reason was to prevent explosions. And as others have mentioned, it almost never happens, but a single vent hole will do the trick.

I had actually quit poking potatoes but then about a year ago, I threw a bunch of unevenly sized small potatoes in the oven to bake for some eventual mashed potatoes, and one of them DID blow up! I'm back to poking.

Karen, I recall Linda Stradley mentioning here that she recommends poking a potato something like eight times!

Re whole canned tomatoes, I think they would look rather crude in most dishes. When I use them, I pour them into a bowl and break them up by hand.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Karen/NoCA » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:37 pm

I was having lunch with a foodie friend yesterday and she told me she has seen two chefs, real chefs, using whole tomatoes in dishes recently. Personally, I don't care for the idea, can't imagine stabbing that whole tomato and having it squirt all over me or the table. If I am putting canned tomatoes in a dish, I want them dispersed evenly.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Tom Troiano » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:44 pm

I don't poke.

Tiny bit of olive oil and salt and that's it.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:17 pm

I have seen what happens when you don't poke -- sometime contributor Jay Miller had a potato explode in his oven. The mess is ungodly. Better poke than sorry.

I prefer to rub a bit of oil or butter on the skin and roast them au naturel but the foil jacket is good for the occasional potato confit style.

Tomatoes whole or smushed or chopped is at the discretion of the recipe, or cook. I have not used them whole, myself, though I have very occasionally been served them that way.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Tom Troiano » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:28 am

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:I have seen what happens when you don't poke -- sometime contributor Jay Miller had a potato explode in his oven.


Are we certain that ALL* exploded potatoes are un poked?

I'm just not convinced that poking prevents explosion.


*or a very very high %
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby John Treder » Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:03 pm

Both popped potatoes in my experience were unpoked. That's not to say that all unpoked potatoes pop; not by a long shot.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Dale Williams » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:39 pm

I used to be a no poker, then had an exploder. Since then, always poked, no explosions. I probably spent 20 minutes cleaning oven after exploder (racks, gas vents, light, etc). I figure poking takes me 5 seconds- so if unpoked has 0.5% chance of exploding, I'm better off poking.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Jenise » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:56 pm

Tom Troiano wrote:
Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:I have seen what happens when you don't poke -- sometime contributor Jay Miller had a potato explode in his oven.


Are we certain that ALL* exploded potatoes are un poked?

I'm just not convinced that poking prevents explosion.


*or a very very high %


I was fairly certain of the high percentage ('all' is too absolute) based on my own experience, and the testimonies in this thread only reaffirm that.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby GeoCWeyer » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:36 am

Karen/NoCA wrote:
Carrie L. wrote:No, I don't poke and I've never had a potato explode in the oven. And I bake them a very long time until the exterior gets extremely crusty. My pet peeve is when people wrap potatoes in foil before they bake. Ugh, it steams them. The worst.
I can't stand a whole tomato in a pot of stew or other dish. I always break them down with a wooden spatula.
My other pet peeve is when people don't spread butter, mayonnaise, or other type of bread spread all the way to the edge of a piece of bread, or when a sandwich is made with the mayo only on one piece of bread and not the other.
Sorry this turned into a peeve session! :)

I feel the same way about the spreading of butter on bread....I want whatever I am spreading to be all the way to the edge of both slices of bread, even peanut butter, tuna salad or any filling has to be to the edge.


The spreading on bread thing is also one of my pet peeves. I hate it when I am served a sandwich when it is done. IMHO it shows the lack of care for the customer and lack of appreciation for the item itself.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Redwinger » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:21 pm

GeoCWeyer wrote:
Karen/NoCA wrote:
Carrie L. wrote:No, I don't poke and I've never had a potato explode in the oven. And I bake them a very long time until the exterior gets extremely crusty. My pet peeve is when people wrap potatoes in foil before they bake. Ugh, it steams them. The worst.
I can't stand a whole tomato in a pot of stew or other dish. I always break them down with a wooden spatula.
My other pet peeve is when people don't spread butter, mayonnaise, or other type of bread spread all the way to the edge of a piece of bread, or when a sandwich is made with the mayo only on one piece of bread and not the other.
Sorry this turned into a peeve session! :)

I feel the same way about the spreading of butter on bread....I want whatever I am spreading to be all the way to the edge of both slices of bread, even peanut butter, tuna salad or any filling has to be to the edge.


The spreading on bread thing is also one of my pet peeves. I hate it when I am served a sandwich when it is done. IMHO it shows the lack of care for the customer and lack of appreciation for the item itself.


Just curious...when ordering in a restaurant do you specify "I'd like my mayo on both sides and spead to the edge of each slice"? Seems awkward. Or, do you just get the mayo on the side?
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Karen/NoCA » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:42 pm

I don't get that picky in a restaurant. It is rare that I order sanwiches in a restaurant that would have mayo on them. We make very good sandwiches at home, when we have them. Anyway, I doubt that by the time you take a bite of a sandwich, you would notice, by mouth feel, that there is not mayo at the edges. I just like to make them that way when I do make them. :roll:
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby GeoCWeyer » Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:11 pm

Just curious...when ordering in a restaurant do you specify "I'd like my mayo on both sides and spead to the edge of each slice"? Seems awkward. Or, do you just get the mayo on the side?

Any establishment with well trained kitchen staff know that when spreading anything on bread to spread it to the edges. If it is not done it denotes a poorly trained staff or clueless management or owner. I never specify. I just expect it to be done. At times I will call the manager over and let them know what was served. Proper sandwich making should not have to be specified by the customer.
When I was in the business anyone who was to make sandwiches was taught how it was to be done. If I noticed it was not being done I would give one warning and then terminate. It's occurance was a sign that the sandwich maker did not care about the quality of the menu items that he/she produced.

I expected my people to take pride in what they made or served. There is no excuse for an obviously poorly made or substandard in any way plate of food to reach the customer. The person checking in the materials at the back door looks at them. The prep cook inspects everything that is prepped, the cook cooks and assembles the food item to the standards set by the operation, and the server looks at the plated food to make certain it is up to standard before it is served. When substandard food is served there is a breakdown some where and it should not be excused. The "little" things are always a sign of a larger problem. Poorly made and presented food is a direct insult to the customers. It shows how little you think of or care for them.

I am certain all competent restaurant managers and owners would agree.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Jenise » Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:59 pm

GeoCWeyer wrote:Any establishment with well trained kitchen staff know that when spreading anything on bread to spread it to the edges. If it is not done it denotes a poorly trained staff or clueless management or owner. I never specify. I just expect it to be done. At times I will call the manager over and let them know what was served. Proper sandwich making should not have to be specified by the customer....I am certain all competent restaurant managers and owners would agree.


There's an old joke about a guy who goes into a restaurant one morning and places a very detailed breakfast order requiring burned bacon, toast buttered only in the middle, a greasy thumbprint on the inside lip of his coffee cup and so on. The waiter objects and says "We can't do all that!" to which the customer responds, "But that's how you did it yesterday!"
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:15 pm

She'll be here all week, folks!
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Thomas » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:46 am

Question for GeoC and others in the restaurant business: do you think all restaurant should train staff to ask if the customer wants the spread on the side or on the bread?
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby GeoCWeyer » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:47 pm

Thomas wrote:Question for GeoC and others in the restaurant business: do you think all restaurant should train staff to ask if the customer wants the spread on the side or on the bread?

IMHO I don't think so. The spread is part of the sandwich in most cases, Rueben, BLT, BBT, etc. If one orders a classic diner's hot roast beef sandwich you would not ask if the gravy should be served separately. It is just part of the item.

That reminds me of when many years ago I managed a corporate restaurant. When my kitchen manager would arrive hung over, late and not in the best shape I would get my revenge by ordering a menu item with all kinds of substitutions and requests and tell the waitstaff to place it on his wheel. If asked they were to say it was just from a customer.
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Re: Do you poke your potatoes before baking and other nonsense

Postby Thomas » Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:16 pm

GeoCWeyer wrote:
Thomas wrote:Question for GeoC and others in the restaurant business: do you think all restaurant should train staff to ask if the customer wants the spread on the side or on the bread?

IMHO I don't think so. The spread is part of the sandwich in most cases, Rueben, BLT, BBT, etc. If one orders a classic diner's hot roast beef sandwich you would not ask if the gravy should be served separately. It is just part of the item.

That reminds me of when many years ago I managed a corporate restaurant. When my kitchen manager would arrive hung over, late and not in the best shape I would get my revenge by ordering a menu item with all kinds of substitutions and requests and tell the waitstaff to place it on his wheel. If asked they were to say it was just from a customer.


I should have asked the question better. Sure, if the menu lists the sandwich or meal as inclusive of spread or gravy, it would stand to reason that nothing more needs to be said to the customer.

I'm talking about a food item that does not come with a spread or gravy on the menu, like a cheese or roast beef or turkey sandwich perhaps on your choice of bread and with your choice of spread. Should the customer assume the spread will be on the sandwich or should the restaurant assume the customer would rather do that him or herself?

I am one who would rather do my own spreading, so when I order I always ask for the spread on the side. Rarely does a waiter ask my preference.
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