Small Batch Potato Chips
It’s my humble opinion that the potato chip has almost reached a similar status as pizza in America. What do I mean by that? Well, most potato chips kind of suck. But even sucky potato chips are pretty good. However, when you have a really good potato chip (like a good pizza pie) it can kind of rock your world. Or at least it can rock my world.
I made these crispy, salty guys for a burger dinner date that Betsy and I had a few weeks ago (burger post here). The burgers were really good but the simplicity and deliciousness of these chips may have made them my favorite part of the meal.
1) Slice the potatoes (leave the skin on) with your mondoline slicer. You can use a knife if you have an hour and lots of patience.
2) Add the slices to a bowl of cold water to rinse off the starch.
3) Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large pan. Leave a few inches in the pan. Don’t fill the oil all the way to the top!
4) Take a small batch of chips out of the water and drain them on a paper towel to wick off any extra water. They don’t have to be completely dry, but they shouldn’t be dripping wet.
5) Add them to the oil slowly. Be sure not to overcrowd your pan.
6) Depending on how many chips you cook at a time and your pot, your chips should take somewhere in the 5-6 minute range. When they stop bubbling that means all the water is evaporated and they’re done.
7) Move them to a bowl with a paper towel in it to drain again. Season immediately with salt and pepper.
Slicing, slicing, and slicing
There’s really no reason to use a potato other than big fat Russet potatoes for these. Of course, you can use other potatoes, but I’m just not sure why you would want to. Russets are widely available, cheap, and fry up beautifully assuming you follow a few simple steps.
When I’m making chips like this, I leave the skin on. They’re sliced so thin that you barely even notice it, but it does give the chips a kind of rustic look and it makes for one less step. Since you don’t need to peel them though, make sure you scrub them really well to get off any dirt.
When it comes to slicing, it’s pretty hard to do this without a mandoline slicer. The good news is that if you have one, these become incredibly easy to slice. As I always recommend, just make sure you use the safety guard people. An emergency room visit is never a good way to start a meal.
If you don’t have a slicer, you can use the slicing blade of a food processor or, if you have decent skills, a very sharp knife.
I like my chips to be not super-paper thin. I like them to have a bit of bite to them. In my mind, this width is about perfect.
Soaking the Chips
If you have a slicer, it’ll take you about 1 minute to slice up 5 or 6 potatoes. Once they’re sliced, add the slices to a big bowl of cold water. This will rinse off a lot of the starch on the potatoes which will make them easier to fry (they won’t stick together and get gummy).
It’s kind of an annoying step, but it’s important if you want a good crispy chip.
This was my basic setup for the chip-making process. I had my slices soaking in a bowl of water, a few paper towels laid out to let the chips drain a bit, a bowl lined with another paper towel for the chips as they come out of the fryer, and then a final bowl to transfer seasoned chips to.
On the paper towel set-up, you don’t need to worry about really drying the chips, you just don’t want them dripping water when you lower them into the oil. As we all know, water and oil don’t like each other and it can, under the circumstances, result in yet another trip to the emergency room.
Speaking of the fryer, you’ll need to get that ready also! I use a big sturdy pot and fill it about half-way full of canola oil. My poor frying thermometer bit the dust about 5 minutes after this photo. I knocked it off the pot and it shattered on the ground. No ER visit though thankfully.
Frying the chips
The oil should be 350 before any chips go in. If it’s too low, they won’t crisp up nicely so if the temp ever drops below 325 or so, give the oil a minute or two in between batches to heat up again. A thermometer is nice for this obviously, but as shown by the post, you can do it without one. I just did a test chip before I started frying in batches and would wait a minute or so in between to let my oil come back to temperature.
I’d rather have a thermometer though. It’s a cheap way to take out the guess work.
Once your oil is hot, add in the chips! Work in batches and be gentle when adding them. No need to drop them from a great height. As they fry, use a good pair of tongs or a big metal spoon to move them around and flip them occasionally.
These guys are about halfway done.
Total cooking time for each batch will probably be 5-6 minutes depending on your pot, the amount of potatoes you add at a time, etc. You know they’re done when they are golden brown and have basically stopped sizzling. If they aren’t sizzling, it means almost all of the water is out of the potato which means they’ll be really crispy.
I like to use a slotted spoon to transfer my finished chips to a bowl with a paper towel to drain a bit. As with anything fried, season these guys as soon as possible. I used a good pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper.
Once you get in the hang of it, you’ll find a rhythm of adding chips to the oil, moving chips from the soaking bowl to the paper towels, moving seasoned chips to a large bowl, taking out chips and moving them to the seasoning bowl, so on and so forth.
It might seem like a bit of work, but just look at the chips people!
The only thing I’ll add about these guys is that they actually store a lot better than I thought they would. Betsy and I were able to finish about half of them on day one, but we just stored them at room temperature, covered with a paper towel, and they were still delicious on day two and three!
The possibilities are endless with seasonings. What would you season with?