I'd heard the concept and lumped it in there with Radiator Roasted Rump Roast and Steam Engine Steamed Salmon , But after reading of it on Cooks Illustrated Oct. 11 website, which had a recipe for salt roasted potatoes with thyme and shallots, I had to try a HOTR edition.
Most recipes just call for burying a baker under a mound of salt. The premise is there is a moisture exchange between the salt and the spud, the moisture escaping the potato being absorbed by the salt and then reabsorbed by the potato making the interior, not only well seasoned, but very light and fluffy. Store brand salt was 32 cents The four potatoes were about 50 cents (two for dinner, two chopped and reheated for home fries in the morning) The worse case scenario if these turned out like mortar rounds was I was only out out a buck and there was still pork tenderloin, salad and garlic cheese biscuits (knock off Red Lobster version). if needed.
Cover TIGHTLY with foil and bake in the middle rack of a 450 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When there's 30 minutse left to cook, pop in a 1 and 3/4 - 2 pound pork tenderloin which you have rubbed with garlic and herbs and laid in a small glass pan on top of a little EVOO and salt, then covered with foil.
When time is up, remove potatoes and pork. The pork should be about medium rare, Keep foil on it, set on a trivet and allow to finish cooking to medium with the foil on it. Remove foil from potatoes and remove the garlic to a small dish while you raise the heat on the oven to 475 degrees (my oven tends to be "hot" so 475 worked better than the 500 degrees the web recipe called for) Brush the tops of the potatoes with a Tablespoon or so of EVOO and return to oven for 15-22 minutes.
The potato skin will be dark golden brown and firm, but when poked with a knife, the interior should be quite soft when done. Remove any clumped salt from the bottom of the potato with a clean kitchen towel , and serve with the garlic herb butter. (The salt in the pan can be strained and reused for another batch of potatoes before discarding).
Seriously, this was the best baked potato I've ever had. The interior was incredibly soft and fluffy, with a hint of garlic and rosemary in it, even without the butter and there was no "salty" taste. The skin was crisp but not shoe leather, making it easy to scoop out the well seasoned flesh with a spoon.
Inexpensive, easy and delicious, that's what range cooking is all about.