One night last winter — after a freak blizzard left us snowbound on our farm — my husband and I found ourselves craving a nice big batch of potato chips. And since neither of us felt adventurous enough to strike out (on snowshoes!) to purchase some, the only alternative was to attempt to fry our own.
Now I don't know about you, but I've never thought about how to make homemade potato chips. Generally, we try to keep such junk food out of the house. And when we do occasionally succumb, it's always as a result of a weak moment while we're at the grocery store. So I had no potato chip recipe — nor any previous experience — when I walked into the kitchen on that cold, snowy night.
Well, about an hour later I carried a bowl of hot, fresh potato chips into the living room ... surprised that they had been so easy to prepare and wondering why more people didn't try do-it-yourself chips.
I found that one large potato will produce enough chips to fill three small, delicatessen-sized chip bags. And the only implements needed to make the snacks are a deep pan and an old-fashioned food grater that has a slicing blade on one side. (If you don't own such a tool or a nice mandoline slicer, a good sharp knife — and a steady hand — will do.)
Cut up the potato (or potatoes, if you're really hungry) into nice, uniform, thin slices. I don't peel potatoes, because many of the vitamins are in or near the skins. You can — if you like — crisp your accumulated cuttings a bit by rinsing them in a bowl of cold water, then spreading them on a towel to dry, but the water will dissolve out some of the nutrients.
While you're going through the cutting process, heat the pan filled with any kind of vegetable oil on the stove. The cooking vessel must be deep enough to allow the slices to turn freely. And be sure your oil is hot — very hot — before you begin frying. (If your first batch stays light in color after a long time in the fat and then turns out too greasy, your oil isn't hot enough. Turn up the heat until the shortening or oil begins to bubble and pop, then slowly turn down the heat until the action stops. You're ready to fry!)
Put the chips in the hot oil one at a time. If they're thrown in all at once, the slices have a tendency to adhere to one another. Move the pieces around with a fork as they fry. When your chips reach the degree of brownness that you prefer (it should take only a few minutes), lift them out of the pan and drain them on paper towels. If you're planning to salt or season your potato chips, do it now while there's still a small coating of oil to hold the crystals in place. After the chips cool, dump them into a bowl, then prepare paper towels for the next batch.
Needless to say, it'll take an unbelievable amount of self-control to leave the snacks alone until all the chips are finished. They taste lots, lots better than the commercial kind, all fresh and warm and toasty brown. And once you've got the process down, you can experiment with endless seasoning variations! Add garlic salt, onion salt, kelp, chili powder, chives, paprika or any other herbs and spices to suit your fancy.
Even if you don't attempt to make homemade chips until you're snowed in, I want to assure you that not only can it be done, but it's worth doing anytime!
See also: Make Zucchini Chips
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