As we roll down the last few days before Christmas fueled on cookies, sweets, and booze, it is my goal to get the fridge and cupboards cleaned out for the new year. So I am doing my best to eat what we have on hand, and avoid buying any more groceries until after Christmas.
I have a bag of yukon gold potatoes that need to be eaten, so I decided to give potato chips a try. I’m a big fan of chips – it’s kind of my current dirty junk food habit lately (before that it was pistachios, although I’m still kinda stuck on them too). I’m a pretty equal opportunity potato chip eater, provided they don’t have corn syrup and all kinds of other crap added. Billy Goat Chips are an amazing local specialty. A nice whiskey cocktail and a bowl of thin, salty, chips? Maybe on the couch in front of an episode of Mad Men? Yes please!
Also, I bought a cheapy mandoline a few weeks ago that I’ve been wanting to try out. Despite the fact that it was so inexpensive, it worked pretty well. I’m willing to bet that the blade will dull sooner rather than later, but hopefully by then I’ll have my pennies saved for one of those expensive Japanese models. But it worked like a charm, cutting my little potatoes into nice, even, thin slices. It’s a kind of zen experience, slicing away with a mandolin. Yes grasshopper, focus your energy on the eeeeeven slicing of your esteemed potato … use hand guard to avoid the lopping off of fingertips. I was super proud of my little slices. If only I could do that with a knife!
Unfortunately baking these bad-boys was not as easy as cutting the slices. I oiled them up pretty good with some olive oil and then spread them out on two foil lined baking trays. I watched the top tray through the oven window and everything seemed hunky dory. Then after a very few minutes I checked the bottom tray and realized that most of the chips were dark and drying out, particularly the ones at the edge. The top tray had no color at all. Panic!
I quickly grabbed the bottom tray out of the oven. At this point I realized that most of the chips were stuck to the foil, despite the olive oil. Damn it! In retrospect I should have oiled the trays as well as the potatoes. I was able to carefully peel them off, one by one by one without too much damage, but it took several minutes to get them all loose. I seasoned the flipped chips and returned the tray to the oven to crisp up a bit more. The top tray still showed no color at all.
Cut to a half hour later when my patience was getting a little thin. The chips, despite being similar in diameter and exactly the same thickness, cooked at dramatically different rates. The ones at the edges of the pan cooked the quickest, but then there would be a random chip in the middle somewheres that would suddenly turn brown like a smoldering log bursting into flame on a campfire. I checked the chips and peeled off the ones that needed flipped literally every minute or two. I was constantly pulling out the trays to flip the chips and take out the ones that were getting too dark. This is either something weird in potato density, or more likely, an illustration of the varied temperature differences in my oven. It was a painstaking task moving the chips around constantly so that they didn’t burn.
I seasoned the chips with a mix of chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and kosher salt in stages as I pulled them from the oven. I let the finished chips cool on racks, which seemed to work out well. Most of them stayed crisp although some were a touch chewy.
Baked Potato Chips Recipe
4-5 Medium-sized yukon gold potatoes
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Optional Seasoning Mix (amounts are approximate, to taste)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Couple dashes cayenne pepper
Peel the potatoes and slice into thin slices lengthwise. Use a mandolin for best results. Cover 1-2 baking trays with foil, and appy a thin layer of olive oil with a brush. Toss the potato slices in oil then arrange on the trays without overlapping. Bake at 375 for 5-15 minutes until crisp and starting to brown. Flip the chips over and bake an additional 5-15 minutes until evenly crisp. Watch carefully as each chip will bake at different rate. Remove chips as they are done, again, this will likely not be all at once. Season the chips with salt and the optional seasoning mix as soon as they are out of the oven before they cool.
After Action Report
Despite the fact that I work from home and can experiment with stuff like this, I feel like this recipe took too much time and effort for too little reward. The chips tasted great although the texture is very different from the deep fried chips. I like a delicate crispy chip, and this was more of a thicker crunchy chip. Maybe I need to slice them even thinner. Some chips are crunchy and dry, others have a slightly moist, chewy texture. Overall it was a tasty snack (and maybe a little healthier than my store-bought chips), but probably not “omg-this-is-amazing” enough to make regularly.