I love potato chips. Potato chips are one of my favorite snacks. They have the perfect flavor combination of salty and earthy, and that crispy texture everyone loves. And more importantly they’re cheap. This mix of deliciousness and affordability makes for one of the most popular foods on the planet. Legend has it that the first potato chip was made as a mistake. An American chef was making French fries and cut the potatoes way too thin. He fried them anyway, and what resulted would forever go down in history as an American classic. I don’t know f there is any truth in that story at all…in fact, I’m pretty sure someone, somewhere had made a potato chip before that. What’s important is that potato chips, whether by mistake or not, are here to stay.
Like I said before, potato chips are cheap. They’re so cheap, in fact, that one may wonder why make them at home at all when a bag at the grocery store is barely more expensive than the potatoes they’re made from. Well, I’ll tell you why. Actually, there are many reasons, but I’ll only mention a few. First of all, and most importantly, flavor is king! Always remember that. If it is done the right way, something cooked at home will ALWAYS taste better than something made in a factory. Factory equals business, business equals bottom line, and bottom line equals preservatives and other things that add stability to the food they produce. At home, you don’t have to worry about a bottom line. All you have to worry about is using real food to make real food, which will always taste better. Secondly, and this is a rhetorical question, but why cook at all? Cooking is not always easy. It takes a lot of effort, at times, to make good food for your family or yourself. If eating is solely about nourishment, then why bother taking the time to do something like this yourself? There has to be something else that drives people to take part in cooking, that satisfies something more than sustenance. I truly believe that the act of getting in the kitchen and creating something for yourself is in human nature and satisfies something in our souls. I can buy a potato chip, but I can also challenge myself to make something better than anything I could ever buy. This creativity and connection to my food is why I cook.
Ok, now that I’m done feeling all emotional about cooking, I have something new that I’m trying! Along my cooking journey I have made probably hundreds of thousands of potato chips and diluted the process down to a sweet science. So, I made a short video on how I make potato chips. After all, seeing is believing, and I definitely believe that YOU, yes you, can make these at home. Pay attention to the equipment that I’m using btw! Now, my video skills are still in development, but I thought it would be cool to see the process in action.
Kale Dusted Potato Chips:
5 russet potatoes
1 gallon frying oil such as rice bran oil, peanut oil, or canola oil
2 bunches kale
salt to taste
Lets start by dehydrating the kale! Preheat your oven to it’s lowest setting, should be around 170° F. If you have read some of the other posts on this blog, you will no doubt see that I am a fan of oven drying food, as I have several other recipes that take advantage of this technique. Starting at the bottom of the kale leaf, use your thumb and forefinger to quickly zip off the leaf from the stalk. Discard the stalks. Now, lay the leaves on a cookie sheet or other large flat oven safe tray and dehydrate for about 2 hours. you will know they are done when you feel no more moisture and the kale is very brittle. Move the kale to a blender or spice grinder and grind until you have achieved a fine powder. On a side note, there will be a deep green cloud of kale in the air when you take the lid off…looks pretty cool!
Now that our powder is made, we can start on the chips. Begin by slicing your potatoes on a mandolin. If you have never used a mandolin, you can read more about one here! Slice the potatoes about the same thickness of a quarter, and into a large container of cold water. I like to do this at least an hour ahead of time so that some of the starch from the potato leeches out into the water. It’s not necessary, but if you don’t soak the potatoes for a little while, the extra starch will make your chips will come out a bit darker. They will taste just as good, but have a different color…and may decrease the lifespan of your frying oil.
Add enough of your oil to a deep fryer or large pot to come half way up the side and turn the heat to 345° F . Iif you are using a large pot, you will have to use a thermometer to make sure you are at the right temperature, and make sure you keep a close eye on the heat so that it doesn’t get over the 345 mark. Its a little more work, but can be done. Though, if you like fried foods, I highly recommend that you get a countertop model like the one in the video. It will save you a lot of effort when frying! Plus they’re very affordable.
Any how, while your oil is heating up, now is the time to make sure you’re set up for success. Once the train starts, there’s no stopping until you pull into the station…so to speak. You will need something to drain the potatoes, like a colander. You will also need a large bowl to toss the fried potatoes in salt and kale, as well s a large fork or spoon to stir the potatoes while they are frying. And lastly, you will need large container lined with paper towels to wick away excess oil. Also, having a side towel for your cleanliness never hurts.
Once, the oil is hot, you can start frying. I like to fry between 15 to 20 chips at a time. And be careful not to splash as you’re adding the chips to the oil…hot oil hurts! I always feel like I’m dealing cards when I’m putting the potatoes into the oil! Let them cook for about 20 seconds then give them a stir to make sure nothing is sticking together. Now I like to add a weight like the fryer basket or frying spyder to the top in order to submerge all the chips in oil. This will ensure that every thing cooks evenly. Keep them submerged for about 2 minutes, then give them another stir. Let them float in the oil without the frying basket for another minute or two. You will know they are done once you see golden brown and the bubbles significantly slow down. Drain them in the fryer basket over the oil to let at excess oil drip back into the fryer. Now toss them in a bowl with salt and a few generous pinches of kale powder, and into a paper towel lined container.
Congratulations! You have fried your first batch of potato chips. Now repeat until all the potatoes are golden brown and crispy. Once you are finished, make sure to let the whole batch cool down. When they are at room temperature, you can store them in an airtight container or even a Ziploc bag. They should keep for about week, if they last that long!
Making potato chips at home might be a little bit more work than you’re used to when it comes to snack food. But the reward is well worth the effort. Give this technique a try, you will probably enjoy the experience of frying and have something delicious to show for it. And don’t forget to leave a comment below and et me know how it turned out!!!