I have been blessed with a husband with dogged perseverance and mad research skills. We decided to lower our grocery bill and he heroically offered up his favorite snack, the potato chip. However, I couldn’t stand to deprive him of something so little that makes him so happy, so for $15 at a thrift store I bought him a used deep fryer and another $6 got us a bag of potatoes. And he went to work.
This blog post has literally been in the making for months. Nathan has been trying batch after batch, going back to internet blogs and recipe sites, trying again and again to get that perfect chip. We have experimented with different oils, different potatoes, different flavors. Here for the general public’s viewing pleasure, you have: The Perfect Homemade Potato Chip.
First, a note on oils: Plain canola oil works fine as it doesn’t smoke at the desired temperature, and it is a cheap option. Experts vouch for peanut oil but that is expensive. However, coconut oil mixed with lard (home rendered) are healthier and the flavour isn’t too strong.
Second, a note on potatoes: Size does matter! Russet works the best as they give a firmer, crispier chip. Most firmer potatoes will give a decent chip. Avoid softer species.
Potatoes, preferably Russet
Nathan first used a mandoline slicer because that is what we had. Slicing by hand is not really an option for three reasons: consistency is not easily attainable, and you want the slices to be the same width for even cooking times; the mandoline we had was not adjustable and the slices it made were too thick; and it’s dangerous!! Far too easy to cut yourself.
Now we have a Wolfgang Puck food processor that we picked up at an estate sale for really cheap. It does an amazing job! The slices are paper thin and very consistent, and the slicing blade is adjustable and very sharp, which allows for every chip to be about the same thickness and thus cook, quickly, all at the same time.
Slice the potatoes to a paper thin thickness, up to about 2 mm.
Take all the slices and put into a large bowl with water, agitating them around to help remove much of the starch. Make sure to separate the slices with your hand as you agitate them. Starch is your enemy!!
Drain the water, and refill, this time adding enough salt to make the water taste slightly salty. Add about half a cup of vinegar. The vinegar speeds up the process and helps with the crispiness of the final chip.
Allow slices to soak up to an hour. This allows much of the starch to be removed from the chip into the water. No need to drain the bowl.
Get the oil up to temperature, about 375F. Since thermometers on deep fryers are potentially not that accurate, aim for the hotter end – the hotter oil makes for a crispier chip, but too hot and they will burn. It is important to get oil into the chip, as this is a distinctive part of potato chips as opposed to a baked chip (which true connoisseurs like Nathan consider highly inferior to fried chips).
Put in a small handful of the potato slices from the bowl with water (let the water drain from your hand before putting into the fryer). Let the chips cook for at least a minute, and then begin to stir them around gently, to help them cook evenly and not stick together (be careful not to burn yourself!).
Technically a chip is considered done when the moisture inside the potato chip is cooked out, when the boiling action of the oil (as visible in the fryer) ceases. This should take 4-6 minutes.
Carefully remove the finished chips from the hot oil and place them on a rack as you want them to cool without “sweating” against a hard surface – this softens them. Paper towels work as long as you flip them as they cool. Don’t throw them straight into a bowl or they will sweat and sog!!
Once cool, the chips can be sprinkled with salt or popcorn seasoning. Salt is not necessary except for taste as the salt and vinegar solution will still be present in small amounts.
Final step – find a place where you can hide. Because EVERYONE will be hounding you for the chips, as a freshly fried chip is a thing of beauty and taste.
As seen in the pictures, Nathan likes chips on the crispier darker side, while I don’t mind them on the soft side. They will darken correspondingly the longer left in the oil.
Ketchup flavored chips: