Menu Board at a UK Costco
Potatoes are wonderful. Delicious in every form. My particular favorite is the baked potato with its crisp skin and fluffy insides. I like mine with a little butter or sour cream, salt and pepper, or even stuffed with tasty fixin’s.
British stuffed baked potatoes, or jacket potatoes, are a distant cousin to the US version. First, the potato itself is, in my opinion, far superior to any potato I’ve ever had elsewhere, including the US. The potatoes here are the fluffiest, creamiest, most delicious I’ve ever tasted. Maybe that’s why jacket potatoes represent one option of British “fast food.” If you’re hungry and you want a jacket potato, you probably don’t have to look very hard or far. In fact, jacket potatoes are on the Costco menu. If you are a food and you’re on the Costco menu, you know you’ve made the big time, because Costco’s all about volume; you wouldn’t be on the menu if you didn’t sell.
But the British version differs from the US version in another significant way, and that is the toppings. In the US, the stuffed baked potatoes I’ve seen have generally been topped with chili and cheese or “loaded” with butter, sour cream, cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onion. Yum and yum. In the UK I’ve seen a choice of baked beans, coleslaw, tuna salad (called tuna mayonnaise here), tuna and sweet corn (yes, corn, and I’ve even seen corn on pizzas here), chilli (a.k.a. chili), or cheese. I’ve tried one with beef chilli. Not bad, but not nearly seasoned or spicy enough. I’ve tried the baked beans, but carb on carb is not my ideal. The rest, I’m just chicken. I love the idea (and the potatoes!) but the execution leaves me wanting.
My solution is to make jacket potatoes at home. I bake a few extra potatoes when I roast a chicken for dinner, then have a potato ready to go for lunch the next day. Just pop it in the microwave and top at will. Through experimentation, I’ve arrived at a near-ideal topping creation. Thinking about it now, it might seem just as strange as the toppings in the shops, but I enjoy it.
My jacket potato lunch today.
I caramelize onions, then toss in roasted mushrooms (cooked the night before) to warm. Pour in whipped eggs and cook until done but still tender. Top with fresh, chopped tomato, hot sauce, shredded cheese, and rocket (a.k.a. arugula, which is used quite extensively here).
I’m curious what other people put on their potatoes that might be a bit different than the norm and what are some common jacket potato toppings in the UK that I’ve not heard of yet. I’m on a jacket potato mission.