3largerusset potatoeswashed and dried (with the skin on)
3tablespoonskosher saltor coarse salt
3tablespoonsolive oilor canola oil
For the Thyme and Ground Beef:
1poundlean ground beef
1teaspoonground black pepper
1/4teaspoonsaltor salt to taste
1tablespoonfresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
For the Gravy:
3tablespoonsflourfor the slurry to thicken the gravy
4-1/2 to 5tablespoonsbeef broth or waterfor the slurry to thicken the gravy
For the Potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
With a two-prong cooking fork, carefully poke holes in each potato. Cover all sides of the potatoes with olive oil (or canola oil).
Place kosher (or coarse) salt on a small plate. Lightly roll each potato in the salt.
Place the potatoes on a rack with a cookie sheet under it.
Bake the potatoes uncovered in a preheated oven for about an hour or until done (time may vary depending on the size of the potatoes).
For the Thyme Ground Beef:
Start making the thyme ground beef and gravy 25 minutes before the potatoes are done baking.
Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add ground beef, onion powder, pepper, granulated garlic, and salt. Stir the spices in with the ground beef.
With a spatula, break up the ground beef so that the pieces are all about the same size. Continue to stir as the ground beef cooks.
For the Fresh Thyme - Remove the leaves from the sprigs of thyme. If the leaves are small, no need to chop them. But if the leaves are on the larger side, then chop the thyme leave.
To the skillet, add the thyme and 2 cups of beef broth, and stir.
For the Gravy:
For the Slurry to Thicken the Gravy - In a small bowl, add flour and 4-½ to 5 tablespoons of beef broth or water, so that the consistency is just a bit thinner than ketchup. Whisk together until the flour is completely incorporated with the liquid.
To the skillet, slowly add the flour mixture a little at a time while continuously stirring. Then add butter and stir.
Let simmer and continue to stir until the gravy thickens up slightly (about 5 to 7 minutes).
Transfer a very small amount of the gravy mixture to a small bowl. When it's cool enough to taste, do a taste test and if needed, add more salt to the meat and gravy mixture in the skillet and stir.
For Serving - When the potatoes are done, carefully cut a slice on top of each potato, and fluff up the inside of the potato with a fork.
Spoon the warm ground beef and thyme gravy over the top of the potato and serve with a small dinner salad or all by itself.