I can't blame you if your Super Bowl snack plan is to open a few bags of store-bought chips and dump them into bowls. But I want to at least try to convince you to do something just a little different—consider making your own homemade potato chips with custom not-available-at-any-store flavors. It's a bit more work, but I'd argue also a lot more payoff.
There are tons of potato-chip flavors on the market now. Some of them are great, some of them are novelties, and at least a few are total disasters (I'm looking at you, "limón" chips that I impulse-bought on the checkout aisle recently—you were a seriously disappointing rendition of lime flavor). But for all the variety, there's still a world of possibility that's yet to be explored.
So here are four totally unconventional, totally delicious flavors that you can make for game day (or any snack time)—I guarantee that your friends will be amazed.
All of these chips start with the same step: frying your own potato chips. I used the chip-frying method Kenji published, in which you first par-boil the sliced potatoes in vinegar-water, then fry them in oil until crisp and crunchy.
Just for a quick refresher, you start by slicing the potatoes 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline. (Don't have a mandoline? Read or equipment review here).
Then you rinse the slices under running water to wash off excess starch.
The potatoes spend three minutes in a pot of boiling water that has just a little white distilled vinegar added, then drain on paper towels.
Then it's time to fry them in 325°F oil until golden and crisp. It took me about 20 minutes per batch in the oil, but the exact time depends on how much power you have in your burner.
As soon as they're done, use a wire strainer or slotted spoon to transfer them to a large mixing bowl lined with paper towels.
It's important to season and flavor each batch of chips as soon as it comes out of the oil, since the small granules of flavor and salt cling best when the chips are still hot and glistening with oil.
Now on to the flavors.
Thai Red Coconut Curry
Think of a steaming bowl of Thai red curry, rich with coconut milk, spiced with plenty of red chile, and exploding with the aromas of lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, ginger, and garlic. Now concentrate that flavor into dehydrated form and encrust it on chips. That's exactly what this tastes like.
To create the flavor, I blended dried coconut flakes with granulated garlic, dried makrut lime leaves (I found them at Whole Foods, but Amazon sells them as well), fresh lemongrass, dried ginger, lime zest, and dried red chile. A little muscovado (you can substitute dark brown sugar) rounds out the assertive, spicy edge.
To get these ingredients ground fine enough, a traditional blender won't cut it. Instead, use an electric spice grinder, or a high-power blender.
This has all the complexity and flavor you'd expect, in one tight little potato-chip package.
I have to admit, I'm really proud of these flavors. First, because they taste great, and second, because there's a good division between them being easy and dead-easy. See, two of the four (Thai Red Curry and Chicken Dinner) require blending your own flavorings in a spice mill or high-power blender, but the other two—this one and also miso—are practically straight out-of-the-box. All you have to do is fry your own chips, then dump store-bought ingredients on them, and you're set.
Se here is za'atar, a middle eastern spice blend. You can read up on what it is here, and of course you're more than welcome to make your own blend if you're so inclined, but you can also buy a jar of it pre-mixed, which is what I did for this recipe.
Za-atar can vary a lot from place to place and cook to cook, but it typically has sesame seeds, sumac (a tart spice), and herbs like thyme. It's an absolutely fantastic potato-chip flavor, with the sumac adding tartness. Think salt-and-vinegar chips, but not nearly as tart, and with an intriguing woodsy herb and nutty sesame quality.
I want to shoot straight with you here: if you were to try this flavor without knowing what it was, you probably wouldn't be able to guess. Inspired by all those wacky British potato chip* flavors (like roast beef and peppercorn sauce and sweet cured ham and pickle), I wanted to create a flavor that captured the essence of a whole meal. But of course, when you smash an entire dinner into one chip flavor, it isn't exactly as obvious as, say, barbecue.
Sorry, I mean crisps.
Still, once you know that the flavor I was going for was roasted chicken, stuffed with lemon, thyme and garlic, with a side of sauteed mushrooms and mashed potatoes, I think you'll agree that it kinda works. Even better, this flavor (and all the others) is entirely vegan!
My secret is nutritional yeast, an umami-rich flaky powder that vegans frequently use to add a savory, meaty quality to their food. In this case, I'm using it as a stand-in for roasted chicken flavor. Then I blend it to a powder with fresh or dried thyme, dried garlic, lemon zest, and dried mushrooms. What about the mashed poatoes? Well, it is a potato chip, after all.
This is the other straight-out-of-the-box flavor I have for you, and frankly, as soon as I made it, I started to wonder why no one has done this before (or have they?). It's so obvious!
All I do is dump a few packets of dehydrated miso-soup mix onto the chips, and shred some seasoned nori sheets from one of those snack boxes on top. I don't even bother to sift out the little bits of dehydrated tofu, seaweed, and scallion common to a lot of the miso soup mix: it's all very edible even when dry and mostly just disappears into the bowl of chips.
It tastes exactly like miso soup, except that it's crisp and crunchy instead of, well, soup!
Now tell me, have I convinced you? Maybe this picture of an insanely crisp homemade chip will help.