Homemade potato chips can’t be beat. They may not look as good as the ones from a bag, but they sure do taste better. And you eat them hot! We start making chips at the end of a batch of French fries, using the ends of the potatoes. The challenge is in slicing them, for which you absolutely need a machine of some sort. We have two. I use the mandolin (also known as “The French Widowmaker,” for it’s ability to slice off the ends of fingers if you’re not careful) . My wife uses a Ronco gadget she and her siblings bought for their mother in the 1970s. It’s called “The Kitchen Magician,” and it indeed slices excellent thin chips.
Buying the right potatoes is critical. Get the largest Idaho russets you can find in the bin. Scratch the skin lightly with your fingernail. If there’s even a hint of green between the brown of the skin and the white of the flesh, put that one back. Check all the potatoes you buy for frying this way.
The main issue in frying potato chips is that the starches get dark fast, especially around the edges, and make the chips fry unevenly. So you get chips that are crisp around the outside but still flaccid in the center. The tricks that seem to avoid this are rinsing the potatoes in two changes of water right after slicing, and frying at a lower temperature than most recipes call for.
- 3-5 russet potatoes, the larger the better
- Vegetable oil (I use organic canola, the lightest in flavor), enough to fill a deep pot about three inches deep
- 3 Tbs. salt
- 1 tsp. salt-free Creole seasoning
1. Peel the potatoes. Slice them as thin as you can get them without tearing, with uniform thickness. Immediately place them into a large bowl of cold water.
2. When finished slicing, swish the potatoes around in the bowl, then dump out the water. Fill the bowl with cold water and let them stand a few minutes. Swish them around again, then drain.
3. Spread the chips out on a large towel (we use a bath towel for this). Fold it over, and press out all the water. Keep the chips covered until the oil comes to temperature.
4. Heat the oil to 325 degrees, measured on a fry thermometer. Drop about a handful of chips into the oil, and with a slotted spoon stir them around so they don’t stick to one another.
5. The chips are perfect when they’re light brown (they will be darker than the commercial ones in the bags) and are no longer bubbling much. If they get much darker around the edges than in the center, lower the heat a little.
6. Drain the chips in a basket lined with the inexpensive, bowl-shaped kind of coffee filters. Season with salt and Creole seasoning, then move them far away from the frying pot. You need to start on the next batch, and prevent the entire population of the house from walking up next to you.
Makes not quite enough, no matter how many potatoes or how few people you start with.
Serves six to eight.