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Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

The Food Lab: How to Make Stuffing-Flavored Potato Chips

It's time for another round of The Food Lab. Got a suggestion for an upcoming topic? Email Kenji here, and he'll do his best to answer your queries in a future post. Become a fan of The Food Lab on Facebook or follow it on Twitter for play-by-plays on future kitchen tests and recipe experiments.

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Nobody can deny that ThunderCats was the best tv show of the '80s and Tygra was the coolest of the Thundercats*. My mom never bought me a Tygra sleeping bag or beach towel, but man, would I have looked cool in one.

*If you try to deny it I will smite you with the power of Grayskull.

Similarly, Thanksgiving is the best holiday and stuffing is the best part of Thanksgiving. I don't think they make stuffing-patterned sleeping bags. If I were a better seamstress, I'd make myself one, but my skills lie in a different field, so instead I resort to making as many stuffing-flavored things as possible. From stuffing waffles to latke-coated, liquid cranberry center, deep-fried stuffing balls, the more stuffing I can stuff into this month (and this mouth), the better.

This time we delve into the world of snacks with stuffing-flavored potato chips. In a world where cheeseburger potato chips exist, why, oh why has nobody created a stuffing-flavored chip yet?

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I started testing developing this recipe using my Extra Crunchy Homemade Potato Chip recipe, which involves blanching sliced potatoes in vinegar-spiked water before frying in order to rid them of excess starch. It creates a chip that is pale blond, like a traditional packaged potato chip, but with more crunch.

But in the end, I found that the more robust flavor of a classic kettle-style chip—potato slices that are rinsed in water rather than blanched—matched better with the seasonings I was after.

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For the flavoring, I knew that celery, sage, and onion would play heavily into it, and I figured that I'd start with fresh versions of each, finely chopping them (celery leaves, fresh sage, and sliced chives in place of the onions). But it turns out that fresh chopped herbs and aromatics don't really like sticking to potato chips, and what's worse, add too much moisture, causing the chips to soften when you store them.

Much better was to severely cut back on the level of fresh herbs and supplement them with dried. In the end I used a mix of fresh and dried sage, fresh celery leaves and dried celery seeds, dried marjoram, onion powder, and fresh rosemary.

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Vegetarian stuffing on its own is ok, but you really need those drippings or broth to complete its flavor. Obviously I couldn't soak my chips in broth, but powdered chicken bouillon along with a tiny pinch of MSG (you can leave it out if that stuff makes you squeamish) added the necessary level of meatiness to the mix. The chips come out like stuffing, but crunchier.

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Plans for day after Thanksgiving: Thundercats marathon with a bowl of stuffing chips to carry me through their epic battle against Mumm-Ra.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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