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Baked potato grenade - what went wrong?

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In the past, I once had a baking potato explode while in the oven. I was making a bunch of them so it's possible that I had missed piercing it, but it might also have had to do with it being on the rack in the rear corner of the oven. Maybe too much heat. Long time ago so I don't know how high or for how long. The others were fine.

Today I (definitely) pierced two room temperature Russets with a fork and placed them directly on the oven rack at 300F for maybe 90 minutes. At the end of that time, I reached my bare hand in for the closest one, and dropped it onto a plate perhaps 10" below it. It exploded, spreading potato shrapnel in a 2ft radius. The skin, though ruptured, was still in one piece. It had flown back into the oven. I left the other potato in the turned-off oven until it cooled off a bit.

Has this happened to anyone else, or can anyone explain what happened?

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  1. I think "dropping" it onto a plate was not a good idea -- impact caused steam to try to exit too quickly. Try placing it gently on the plate (and I'd definitely handle it with a clean pot holder or kitchen towel, not bare hands.

    4 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Possibly, but it's something I have done many times without consequence.

      Martha Stewart recommends throwing the hot potato down onto the counter, with some force, to fluff up the interior. I've done that without the potato doing anything more than splitting a bit. What I did today was just a gentle drop, not a toss. It was what I'd consider an average sized spud. About 5" long, less than 2.5" diameter.

      1. re: greygarious

        Well, I hesitate to argue with Martha. I switched to piercing potatoes with a paring knife after several unfortunate incidents with fork-pierced spuds many years ago. Maybe the tine holes simply aren't large enough to permit escape of steam? I also think it's important that the pierced side faces up.

        1. re: pikawicca

          It's certainly possible that the pierced side was down, although since they were on the rack, not a pan, the holes would not have been blocked. But maybe the steam only wants to exit from the top. I suppose I'll start making sure to use a knife. I've been using either, depending on what's in the dish drainer at the time.

          1. re: greygarious

            I always poke with a fork on the top and bottom. Maybe 4 pokes total, so there are 16 holes (using a 4 tine fork).

    2. Maybe not enough pokes? I give it 5-6 with a small sharp knife.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sandylc

        Agree it's all about sufficient holes to vent the potatoes while roasting.

        With a daughter who expected a baked potatoe at least 5x a week, we got into the habit of baking them in a speed oven. Jabbed into a scrubbed russet with paring knife at least a half dozen times along its length penetrating perhaps 1/2". Rubbed skin lightly with olive oil. Nuked in microwave for about five minutes then placed in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Never an explosion. Always hot, well cooked quickly with roasted skin flavor and fluffy texture upon splitting it open. Never spanked the counter with our spuds.

        1. re: ThanksVille

          I have never pricked a baking potato in my life and have never had one explode. That makes me sad.

          I do wrap them in foil. If I do it without can I get one to blow up?

          1. re: kengk

            A foiled potato is not a baked one - it's a steamed one! They have completely different tastes/textures.

      2. We do something similar to Thanksville above. The potato is actually sliced the length, not penetrating too deeply, just about 1/2 inch. It's then put into the microwave for about 4 minutes on high. Check to see if it's soft, if not nuke 3 - 4 minutes longer. Take it out and push the two ends toward the center to fluff a bit.

        1. New one on me. I often drop a baked potato to fluff it up. Sometimes it pops open, but I have never had an explosion.

          1. The plot thickens. Today I baked 3 more potatoes from the same bag as the grenade, still stored in a cool spot. Washed, pricked on all sides with a paring knife, perhaps 10-12 quarter inch deep jabs. 400F, on the rack, next to a pan of roasting pork and vegetables. The middle spud exploded IN the oven. All 3 were the same size and shape. Maybe these potatoes were grown in a former minefield? ;-D

            2 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              that's really weird.

              I was going to suggest a dozen stabs on all sides with a paring knife, but you precluded that.

              Maybe *deeper* jabs that go to the center?

              Maybe your spuds are really fresh, so have a higher moisture content?

              1. re: sunshine842

                I don't know what "fresh" is, in potato years, but I bought the
                bag on January 9. They are a supermarket chain brand (Hannaford), and the bag reads Eastern Russet,"product of the Canada". The grammatical error makes me think they are from French Canada. I suppose, if pressed, I would say that the skins might be a little thicker than that of an Idaho Russet. Nonetheless, the diligent piercing I did this time should have been enough. Two remain - I think I'll steam them!