Now that I’m only one year away from turning forty, my everyday life is increasingly dominated by middle age concerns. This boils down to two things. Firstly, not to get too stressed and grumpy. Whenever my inner calm is jeopardised I close my eyes and go to my happy places (floodlit football games, early Rick Stein programmes, my smiling son…). My other constant battle – not to get too fat.
A run of indulgent eating leads me to crave something clean and nourishing, like miso soup or a nice hot crispy jacket potato with butter. I’m not huge on potatoes. Chips and crisps are good things obviously, and so are roast tats as long as they’re crunchy and fluffy and gleaming with fat. But I can live without mash and new potatoes and potato salad and potato with everything just for the sake of having some carb. There’s something about a good baked potato though. A long hot blast in the oven seems to be the best way to coax out a spud’s subtle flavour.
So let’s not kill it with big fillings. Baked beans – maybe. Cheese – not too much. Tuna mayo – not really. Chilli con carne – I can see why it happens. I once served Chris Tarrant a jacket potato with prawn mayo on a summer job at the local leisure centre cafe. Prawn mayo – no.
Today I wanted cream cheese with chives along with the salty savouriness of Marmite. I made sure I didn’t open the oven door, as temperature fluctuation can ruin a potato’s progress towards a truly happy crispy-skinned afterlife. And before it went in, I pricked the thing dozens of times all over as I always do. After you’ve experienced the mini-nuclear fallout that is having a potato explode on you in the oven, then believe me you never knowingly under-prick ever again.
Ingredients: baking potato, cream cheese, Marmite, chives