When I was little, my dad and I spent Sunday mornings on the Santa Monica beach. Before heading home we'd sometime hike up to the pier and buy a newspaper cone of freshly made potato chips from a little stand there and share them on the ride home. They were warm, and slightly soft in the middle, just out of the fryer.
While it's not exactly realistic to fry up your own chips every time you get the munchies, a bowl of freshly fried, thinly spliced spuds is a great thing to serve with drinks to a peckish crowd before dinner.
You need a mandoline. We talk a lot about mandolines here on the site — here's a post with a nice string of comments — so if you haven't gotten one yet, and these chips appeal, maybe now's the time. Otherwise you'll probably get pretty frustrated when you try to slice the potatoes evenly.
This is not a neat and tidy project, nor is it the safest; wear an apron and keep the kids away. You need oil with a high smoking point, meaning oil that can get very hot before it starts burning. Peanut oil and safflower oil both work well because they have a neutral flavor.
When they're still hot, I sprinkle on some rosemary because it's a great complement to potatoes, but flavor them however you'd like: other herbs, no herbs grated hard cheeses like Parmesan, or dry spices. You get the picture.
I have not provided amounts in the recipe because potato sizes vary so dramatically, and slicing thickness also varies enough to alter yields. For me, for each pound of potatoes, I get the equivalent yield of the contents of an average bag (not individual-size bag, not extra large party-size) of store-bought potato chips, usually about 10 ounces.
Homemade Potato Chips with Rosemary
Russet (Idaho) potatoes (but don't be afraid to experiment with other starchy potatoes like sweet potatoes and blue potatoes)
Peanut oil (I usually get a 24-ounce bottle, which gets me through three batches)
Flaky sea salt
Prepare an area to drain and dress the chips. A few paper grocery bags or some spread out newspaper both work well. Have a little bowl with the salt and another with the chopped rosemary.
Scrub potatoes clean then slice them crosswise on a mandoline about 1/8 - 1/4-inch thick. Make sure the thickness is consistent, otherwise the chips will cook differently.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat enough oil to fill the pan 3/4 - 1-inch deep. You can use the same batch of oil to cook several batches of chips. You may want to get two pans going at once if you can work that quickly, otherwise it can take a while to get through all the slices.
When oil reaches about 350° F (see these tips for how to tell when oil is ready), gently but quickly lower in enough potato slices to loosely cover the surface area of the pan. Use a set of metal tongs to nudge the potatoes away from each other if they start to stick. When the edges begin to curl and color starts to emerge, turn them over. They should cook about 1-2 minutes per side.
Pull them out with the tongs and set on the paper to drain. Immediately sprinkle with pinches of salt and chopped rosemary.
The dip shown is simple to make: sour cream and chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, Italian parsley and chives) plus some lemon zest and powdered cumin.
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