Tom PapoutsisTom Papoutsis is a “Firehouse Chef” that currently holds the rank of Lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Tom’s experience in the Fire Service spans over 29 years, 19 of which have been with Fairfax County. The bulk of his firehouse culinary expertise has been practiced during his tenure there. He was a national finalist in the 2004 Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition finishing in the top 10 of the nations Firehouse Chef’s, and traveled to New York City to compete in a cook off with his peers. He has also been placed on the “charity” auction block several times to prepare meals for the highest bidder. Tom likes to specialize in Italian and Greek cuisine being of the same heritage, but also enjoys preparing Asian and of course “Good Ole American” foods as well. He concentrates on entrées but also has a few hors d’oeuvres and dessert specialties as well, such as his versions of Bruschetta and Amaretto Cheesecake. For the past year he has been studying the practice of making homemade Italian deli meats and sausages. Tom’s motto: “It’s just cooking, not rocket science, take a chance…..you might like it!” Residing in Chambersburg, PA with his wife JoAnn, twins Jonathan & Katie and “Buddy” their Golden Retriever. Tom enjoys cycling, hunting, fishing, woodworking, raising his children and helping form today’s youth while volunteering with son Jonathan’s Cub Scout pack. Tom can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
Tom Popatis: We are almost done with our potatoes. We are waiting here the last couple of seconds, we are finishing up. We are going to check them here in a second. One second they are done. Now, remember these things can be hot. So, I'm going to take a hot pad, and I'm actually going to check them make sure they are nice and soft. These are in good shape, I'm going to go ahead and take them out of there. Set that aside, and we are doing the roasted potatoes, we are going to go ahead and put these into the roasted potatoes. Roasted potatoes are starting to look really, really good. So, what I'm going to do, is I'm going to set them on a rack here on either side and then we are going to finish them off in about ten minutes or so, they will nice -- just every five minutes, five minutes check them, turn them and they should get a nice hard crust on the outside. If you don't like that hard crust then basically do them in a microwave, and don't worry about putting them in the oven. Just wait till they are soft. Personally, most people myself included, I like mine a little bit hard on the outside, so put them in the oven, finish them off.
If you are not using your oven, but you are using your grill outside, go ahead and put them on the grill, while you are doing your stakes, or your burgers, or your dogs, or whatever you are doing out there, and let them finish off on the grill and put them on -- time them so that whenever you are starting to cook out there, you can put them on and just rotate them with your thongs as you go, and that's it, that's your baked potato.
We will pull them out when they are done, you will get to see them. Our potatoes, remember, our microwave bake potatoes, they have been in the oven now for about 15 minutes just finishing them off, let me go ahead, pull them out, and we are going to take a look at them. I'm going to show you how easy these things are and what they turn out like. Little hot, ouch that's the hot potato, there you go. Close our oven up. There is our potatoes.
Now, what I like is, this is hot, but see how it's kind of crispy, it's like a leathery skin, well inside that leathery skin is a very nice soft potato, that's what you want. If you don't like that crust like that, like I said before, you can take it out, wrap it in foil put it back in there, wrapped in foil, it will stay less leathery, it will actually be more moist on the outside, but what Id like to do, when you go ahead -- a lot of people will take a knife and theyll cut their potato. What Id like to do with my potatoes, take a fork just kind of score it like that, just couple of times and when you are sitting at the table, you have got a napkin, use your fingers look, push this thing, it should pop right up before me, there it is. Pop it open, there we go, nice, well done, you can see, look at that. See how it kind of broke apart for us, whenever we were breaking it open. Now, you put your butter, your toppings, it kind of runs down inside and that's a very well done bake potato, quick and simple because it was done in a microwave.
Start in a microwave, we essentially cooked it in a microwave and put it in the oven to finish it off, or put it on the grill to finish it off, and that will give you that nice outside, and then whenever you go to eat it, you can actually take this and you can scrape the potato, and I'll show you here what it does. That outside skin you can get all the potato just like that, see how that just kind of comes off of there, you just have the skin left.
So, that's it that's how you do a microwave bake potato, and what we will do is we are going to talk a little bit, here coming up in another segment, as to what to do with these bake potatoes when they are left over.