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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homemade Potato Chips

 I found these cool little baskets perfect for the chips for $3 at Wal-Mart.
It's weird how regional some things can be. Back in South Carolina the preferred accompaniment to wings at Buffalo Wing joints is a thing called Raw Fries. I have no clue how they came up with that name because basically these are homemade potato chips. They're made with fresh potatoes that are sliced very thin and then deep fried. In short, delicious. Note: my favorites come from a little restaurant in Columbia, SC called D's Wings.

However, when I moved to Arizona and went into the ubiquitous wing places Raw Fries were not to be found. I finally tracked down an abomination of a version at Buffalo Wild Wings but trust me, those were not real raw fries, they were more like big slabs of potatoes that had a passing acquaintance with a deep fryer. Strangely, out here even decent french fries in wing places is a challenge. Most use very bland mass produced frozen fries then just slather them in ready made seasoning from a bottle. It's sort of like they have the idea that as long as they make wings the rest of the menu can be mundane. But, I digress.

Since I love these "homemade" chips so much I have to make them at home now. For a long time I've just been thin slicing potatoes using my chef's knife. The results have always been mixed. Some slices were just right, some too thick, meaning that my chips came out either overdone or overly soggy. A couple months ago I happened to be in World Market and noticed they had a very inexpensive (under $10) little handheld Mandoline slicer. I'd been toying with purchasing a mandoline just to do my chips but couldn't justify the $50+ pricetag of most versions (some well over $100!) I figured for less than ten bucks I couldn't really go wrong since it was to be a one use gadget anyway.

The little slicer has proved well worth its investment. It's not great for delicate veggies like tomatoes but performs well with cucumbers, zucchini, potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. It does my chips perfectly using its thinnest setting.

So, try some homemade chips or Raw Fries. Here are a few tips:
  • Choose medium size Yukon Gold potatoes for the best taste and texture. If you can't find Yukon Gold potatoes then medium to small Russet Potatoes will work.
  • If you love the Terra Chips sold in stores, combine your potatoes with thin slices of beets, sweet potatoes, blue potatoes, or other root veggies for a colorful and flavorful display. 
  • Have your oil at the right temperature. If you don't have a deep fryer with temperature control, invest in a deep fryer thermometer for your device or dutch oven. Oil that is too low will cause soggy and limp chips. You'll note I call for a temp of 365° in this recipe. Most french fry recipes call for 375. I found backing the temp down about 10 degrees helped with over browning of the chips but still gave a crisp texture.
  • Don't freak out and parboil your potatoes or dunk them in ice water or any of the other nonsense you'll find on the internet from helpful "experts". None of that mumbo jumbo is necessary for chips. Just slice them, dry them off with some paper towels and you're good to go!
  • Salt your chips while still hot! This really does make a difference. Chips salted when they have cooled will not take in the salt as well and thus taste different. I also prefer to use Kosher salt to salt my chips. This makes another big difference. So much that Michael has even come to realize how much better and less "chemical tasting" the Kosher salted versions are. When I ran out of Kosher salt I had to use regular table salt the difference was incredible. The table salt had a serious bite to it along with a chemical aftertaste. 
  • Try flavored salts for more variety. Garlic salts are wonderful on chips but don't stop there.

: Homemade Potato Chips
: Crispy and fresh chips are perfect snacking fare!

  • 4 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Vegetable Oil for Deep Frying
  • Kosher Salt

  1. In a deep fryer or dutch oven, place vegetable oil about 2-3 inches deep. Heat oil to 365°.
  2. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline slicer, slice the potatoes very thinly. Place potato slices on paper towels and dry.
  3. Fry the slices in the oil in small batches so that the potatoes are not crowded. When potatoes begin to curl and brown on edge, use tongs to flip them over and allow them to continue to cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute on opposite side. (Bubbles will begin to subside.)
  4. Remove potatoes from oil and drain on a wire rack placed over a paper towel lined baking sheet. Salt potatoes while still warm and serve.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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