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Store-Bought Chips Are For The Birds

March 1, 2011

It’s simple: As soon as you try fresh homemade chips, you will be ruined forever for any cold, stale, bagged potato chip.

Making chips from scratch takes more work than parking yourself on the sofa and mowing through a bag of Lay’s.

What you’ll need:

  • 2-4 potatoes of your choice (waxier is better; red and white are great; yams and sweet potatoes also delicious)
  • Some oils and seasonings for topping (options listed below)
  • A mandolin (I like this one a lot) OR a big sharp knife (not as good as a mandolin because variable chip width leads to variable baking time)
  • Baking sheet, ideally nonstick
  • Bowl for tossing

What you’ll do:

  • Wash and slice the potatoes, ideally about 1/8 inch
  • Mix seasonings in bowl
  • Use your hands to toss slices potatoes with seasonings, working until potatoes are fully coated
  • Spread potatoes on a baking sheet either crumpled up or lain flat and bake until crispy, usually about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F

This last step is trickier than you might think. You definitely need to keep an eye on these as they go. I often make a tray or two of chips when I’m in the kitchen cooking something else, just because it’s easy to watch them when I’m already close to the oven. In general, the amount of time required varies by type of potato, thickness of chip, and amount of seasoning. For example, a 1/4-inch yam chip can require as long as 30 minutes, but a 1/16-inch white potato chip (pictured below in pre-cooked state) can be done in a quarter of that time.

The best way to address this is to take then pan out, remove the crisp chips, return the pan, and repeat until there are no chips left on it. But recognize that chips crisp up a bit as they cool. Also be careful not to put soggy chips in a bowl with crisp chips, as the former will ruin the latter.

My favorite combinations of potato types and seasonings are:

  • Rosemary chips: Red or Yukon potatoes with olive or canola oil, sea salt, and minced fresh rosemary
  • Sweet cayenne chips: Sweet potatoes with olive oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper powder
  • Thanksgiving chips: Sweet potatoes with canola oil, brown sugar, minced fresh ginger, and a pinch of cinnamon

The chips are best eaten hot, ideally straight off the baking pan.

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