Buttery Potato Packets

Potatoes, simply put, are one of the most delicious foods on this planet. They taste good in almost every way that you can prepare them, and that’s one of their best features – their versatility. Potatoes can be made in so many ways and with so many different flavors. For this reason, this recipe is actually three recipes in one, offering three different ways to flavor your packets. I’ll start with the basic potato packet recipe, but will also feature the Onion and Seasoned Salt option and the Lemon Oregano option. Potato Packets offer two major bonuses: each person gets their own individual packet, so they can tailor it to their own tastes, and it is a low mess dish, cooked in tin foil. 

This packet concept is one that my family has been doing since I was young, and I haven’t changed much to it, except one time when I was making them I had to make an entree in the oven at the same time. This resulted in the oven temperature being slightly higher than I was used to for baking them. I kept an eye on them, and the end result was something that I expected. All the potatoes on the bottom of the packet developed a crisp to them. This was interesting but needed experimentation. Some of the potatoes were too crispy with this scenario and others had the perfect amount of light crisp to them that made the packets better than ever before.

I became determined to figure out what temperature would make the heavy crisp go away while keeping the light golden brown crisp that was desired. It took multiple tries, but eventually I found that a temperature increase had to happen halfway through the cooking process. It is unfortunate that only the bottom of the packet develops the golden brown texture while the top layer remains a normal oven roasted potato, but I am still pretty happy with the results. I’m starting with the Basic Buttery Potato Recipe to give a base of instructions, then below that I will offer two other options to vary up the taste. I hope you enjoy this recipe and all the different options that come with it!

Recipe 1 – Basic Buttery Potato Packets

Ingredients

2 Small Potatoes Per Person or 1 Large Potato Per Person

Softened Butter

Salt

Pepper

As with many potato recipes, Buttery Potato Packets require you to peel and wash all of your potatoes to start off. Once your potatoes are prepped they need to be cut into thin slices. I like to cut mine about ¼ inch thick. While you are prepping your potatoes, the oven should be preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

Once all of your potato slices are cut, it is time to prepare the packets. Rip tin foil sheets about 18 inches long off for each person. It is essential in this recipe that you use softened butter because you will be spreading it across tin foil. Believe me, I have tried to use hard butter before, and every time I have ended up ripping my tin foil to shreds. Using a spoon, spread 1/2 tbsp of butter in a wide circle in the middle of each tin foil sheet. There is no need to spread the butter across the whole tin foil sheet because you will be folding the edges in, and you will want to leave enough room that you can fold the sides in over the top of the potatoes; however, you should make sure you spread it in a circle wide enough that you can layer half of your serving of potatoes on the bottom. When you put each bottom layer of potatoes on the tin foil, you will want to make sure that every potato slice is touching the butter. If they are not on the buttery circle, they will burn instead of crisping up. 

After the first layer of potatoes is down, sprinkle the desired amount of salt and pepper on top of them. This is an important step. If you wait to season your potatoes until they are all in a pile, only the top layer will be flavorful. I usually invite each individual that is eating with me to season their own potato packet because everyone has different preferences. 

When the first layer of potatoes is down and seasoned, put the rest of the potatoes on top of them. Season the second layer next. Then you will top it all off with more butter. I know this seems like a lot of butter – it is. However, the butter is crucial in getting a delicious taste and preventing the potatoes from burning. Top each potato packet off with a tablespoon of butter. Don’t just drop the tablespoon on, but chop it into small pieces and drop the pieces throughout the packet. 

Now your potatoes are completely prepped! Fold the sides of the tin foil over the top of the potatoes and then roll the longer sides in until you have a compact packet. I like to set all the potato packets on a cookie sheet as a precaution before putting them in the oven. Even though you have softened the butter for ease of spreading it, there is never a guarantee that you didn’t poke a small hole in the tin foil, and if you did, you will have a terrible mess in your oven if that butter leaks out as it is melting. The cookie sheet provides you a safety net that would catch any leaking butter. 

One step my dad always likes to take before putting the packets in the oven is labeling the packets. Since each person seasons their packet a little differently, you want to make sure that each person gets their desired potatoes, and sometimes they can look very similar. 

Kitchen tip: always keep a permanent marker in your kitchen. This comes in handy when labeling food that is wrapped in freezer paper, and packet food such as these potatoes. 

After the potatoes are labeled, put them in the oven for 20 minutes. This is just the first half of baking. After your first alarm goes off, bump the temperature up to 450 degrees and cook for another 18 minutes. You do not have to wait for the oven to preheat to 450 before setting the new timer for 18 minutes. Set it right away and let your potatoes continue to come up to temp with the oven. 

Everyone’s oven is a little different, so if you know your oven runs hot, you may want to check them after just 15 minutes. It is also possible that one or two of the edge slices may not be quite as buttered as the middle pieces. Don’t be surprised if these slices crisp up a little more than desired, but if you are careful with your butter placement this issue can usually be minimized or entirely avoided. 

As I mentioned earlier, this recipe can help for a less messy dinner. If you are not worried with the formality of dinner, the entire packets, tin foil and all, can be set on top of a paper plate and eaten straight out of the packet. However, if you are more worried about presentation than dirty dishes, feel free to dump all the potatoes out on a dish and serve as a side. A word of caution though, when you open up the packets they will let out a hot burst of steam. Open them slowly to avoid burning your fingers! 

Recipe 2 – Onion and Seasoned Salt Potatoes

Ingredients

2 Small Potatoes Per Person or 1 Large Potato Per Person

Softened Butter

1 Onion Slice Per Person – Diced

Seasoned Salt

This option of potato packet is my go-to  preference when making them. I love seasoned salt, and onion flavor is always good. The prep work and cooking instructions are the same as the basic packet recipe. The only difference here is that in addition to cutting up the potatoes, you will cut one onion slice for each packet and dice it up into small pieces. 

You do want to make sure that when you are building your packet you wait to add the onion in until you have a layer of potatoes down. Onions cook a lot faster than potatoes, and if they are on the bottom of the tin foil they will be likely to burn. Just like the basic packets, you will season the onion and seasoned salt potatoes in the same fashion. Put a layer of potatoes down, spread onion and seasoned salt on top of them. Put a second layer of potatoes down and season again. Then top it off with the chopped butter and bake it with the same instructions as the regular potato packets.

Recipe 3 – Lemon and Oregano Packets

Ingredients

2 Small Potatoes Per Person or 1 Large Potato Per Person

Softened Butter 

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice Per Person – Split into Two Portions

Oregano

These packets are equally delicious, but there is something about them that feels fancy. I don’t make them on a regular basis for this reason. They are reserved for nicer dinners, pairing well with a cut of steak or a roast chicken. The other packets pair better with burgers and brats. 

Once again, the prep process here is the same as the basic recipe, only changing up the seasoning. After the first layer of potatoes is down, pour 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice on top of them and sprinkle them with oregano. Then put the second layer of potatoes down and pour the rest of the lemon juice on. Sprinkle once more with oregano. Top it off with chopped butter and bake it with the same instructions as the basic potato packets. 

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