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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle of the oven. Place an oven-safe steel cooling rack in a large rimmed baking sheet, and set it aside on your countertop. Or, you can bake the potatoes directly on your middle oven rack, in which case, place a rimmed baking sheet on a lower rack now to catch any drips.
To prepare your potatoes, scrub them clean with a vegetable brush under running water. Prick your potatoes with a fork, about 1/4-inch deep, six to eight times per potato.
Place your potatoes on the prepared cooling rack/baking sheet setup, or place them directly on the middle oven rack. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (longer if necessary), until a skewer or fork slides easily into the center of the largest potato.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and brush each one lightly with butter all over. Sprinkle each one lightly with salt all over.
For ultra crispy skin, raise your middle rack up a level or two higher before putting the potatoes back in the oven. For nicely crisp skin, leave it where it is. Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove the potatoes from the oven. Using a paring knife, promptly cut two slits across the top of each potato to form an “X” shape. Using a clean dish towel to protect your hands, gently push both ends of the potato toward the center until the flesh of the potato ribbons up and out.
Add any desired toppings, and serve immediately.