We are having a charity fundraiser selling 1000 baked Idaho Potatoes. In order to save time, we would like to wash, pierce, and wrap the raw potatoes the night before and store them in a cooler. They would be baked the next morning. Is this a safe process?A:
I would avoid piercing the potatoes altogether. It's infrequent that they will explode and by piercing and then wrapping in aluminum foil the potatoes where each tine of the fork enters the skin can oxidize or turn dark. I usually don't recommend foil either, it steams the potato and makes the outer skin wet. A russet is typically 80% water so the foil wrap seals up the potato so it cannot escape. One method you might try is to wrap, but leave part of the top of the potato exposed, bake and then fold over the flap to retain the heat from baking.
And, if at all possible, put the potatoes in a single level on each sheet pan for even cooking. Placing them in four inch inserts guarantees that some will be over cooked and others not fully baked.