WHOOOOMMP! That’s the sound a russet potato makes when it blows up in your oven. It’s a dense, fast, surprising sound, a lot like the one a gas burner makes when it doesn’t ignite right away and then bangs out a fireball with all the wasting gas that collects around the stovetop. At first I couldn’t identify the alarming sound--thought perhaps it was a backfire of some sort--so I peeped into the oven and found that one of my four baking spuds had spewed its innards all over the interior. Its skin was almost perfectly cleaned out. Did I poke holes in it before it began to cook? Yes, I poked holes in all four potatoes. I remember, because I was doing it at an awkward angle and I was a little worried about accidentally stabbing my left hand while it held those russets still.
I called Rob in from the studio, and Gram in from her toob-watching room, so they could inspect the damage. “Did you poke holes?” “Yes! I poked holes!” Rob went back to work. Gram went back to watching the toob. I went back to cooking and moments later . . . FWHHOOOOOOOMMMPP!! Another pomme de terre blasted to smithereens, louder than the first. I placed a second intercom call to Rob. I told Gram, who fearfully insisted I should take the rest of the potatoes out of the oven. I was afraid to touch the others. I pictured myself catching a third explosion of hot starch right in the face, burns all over. I turned off the oven and waited till I thought it was safe. What a mess. Rob came in and ate the empty potato skins with olive oil and kosher salt and said they were perfect.
Nice that we have a self-cleaning oven.