Recipe: Russet Potato Chips

RUSSET POTATO CHIPS | makes 8 to 10 servings
The extra work of making your own potato chips is very worthwhile, and you can do it a day ahead. You can use a sharp knife to cut the potatoes, but a mandoline or slicer works best.

  • 2 to 3 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled
  • Peanut, canoIa, or grapeseed oil for deep frying
  • Coarse salt

A step ahead: You can fry the chips up to 1 day ahead and store them ir an airtight container at room temperature.

Using a slicer or mandoline, cut the potatoes into almost-paper-thin slices, about 1/16 inch thick or less. Place the potato slices in a container of cold water until you are ready to fry them. Before frying, drain the potatoes and pat them dry on paper towels.

To cook the potato chips, heat at least 2 inches of oil to 350°F in a straight-sided pot, but be sure not to fill your pot more than halfway, because the oil will foam up during frying. Fry the potato chips in batches, stirring them frequently with a slotted metal spoon to cook them evenly, until they are crisp and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the chips to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and sprinkle them with coarse salt to taste.

How to deep-fry: Deep-frying is extra work, but a deep-fried treat can make a meal special. Frying is not hard to do, and it's fast, but it does require all your attention while the food is in the oil.

Peanut, grapeseed, or canola oil is good for deep-frying because of their high smoke point and clean, neutral flavors. Olive oil can add a special flavor to some foods, but use pure olive oil, which has a higher smoke point than extra virgin.

While some people use an electric deep-fat fryer, I prefer a wide, heavy, straight-sided pot with deep sides and a clip-on frying thermometer. The frying thermometer is the most important element for success in deep-frying. Usually you want to deep-fry foods at about 350°F, but the temperature of the oil will fluctuate. When you add a batch of food to the oil, it will lower the temperature. or the oil may get hotter the longer it is on the burner. Use your thermometer to check the temperature of the oil before you start frying, and keep checking it throughout the frying process, adjusting the heat of your burner to keep the temperature consistent.

You'll need at least 1 to 3 inches of oil to deep-fry, but don't fill your pot more than halfway with oil because the hot oil will bubble up when you add food.

A skimmer (a small flat wire-mesh basket on the end of a long handle) is the perfect tool for removing foods from hot oil.

Frying is potentially dangerous. Work carefully, and keep a box of salt or baking soda or a large lid on hand to smother a small fire. It's always a good idea to have a working fire extinguisher nearby.

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