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How to Make the Perfect Potato Chip

How to Make the Perfect Potato Chip

Is there anything better than a crunchy, salty potato chip?

Created in 1853 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., potato chips were originally meant to be a prank in response to a surly customer complaining about his potato fries being "too thick," but their thin, crisp qualities turned out to be something very different than a joke. "Saratoga chips" instantly became a hit, and their popularity traveled from upstate New York to all around the country. By the 1920s they had become a well-known and popular snack, and potato chip manufacturing companies starting popping up everywhere in the culinary industry.

Click here to see How to Make the Perfect Potato Chip

On March 14, America celebrates potato chips and all of their glory through National Potato Chip Day. The widely distributed chip is one of America's favorite snacks, and with so many brands and varieties available, potato chips continue to be one of the most popular food items that you can buy. And while you can walk into any convenience store, gas station, or supermarket and pick up a bag, the Cook editors here believe that there's nothing more gratifying than making your own at home.

While potato chips seem like a simple fry-job, they’re actually quite a complex kitchen project. The potato is a mysterious creature, made up of starches and carbohydrates that make the alchemy of cooking one a tricky task. While something like mashing boiled potatoes can be an easy feat, frying them sliced and getting the perfect consistency and just the right balance of oil is something that can only be done with the knowledge and understanding of a potato.

To help us discover how to make the perfect potato chip, we turned to molecular gastronomy guru Dave Arnold to help us develop a recipe. As the director of culinary technology at the International Culinary Center, Arnold leads the way in developing groundbreaking technologies and techniques in the world of cooking. The award-winning food writer and culinary science-whiz took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss the genetics of a potato with us to help us achieve creating the ultimate potato chip, and it all came down to water and sugar.

"[The main goal of making a potato chip is] getting all of the water out of it so that it becomes crispy but at the same time maintains its structure," he explained. He added that, along with the structure, the color of your potato chip is important, and this is highly affected by the amount of sugar found in potatoes.

With these two things in mind, Arnold let us in on a few secrets for how to cook a potato chip perfectly and maintain its perfect brown-blonde exterior. While the structure of a potato chip is complex, the recipe is simple, and as long as you keep the underlying principles that Arnold explains to us in mind, you’ll get a perfect potato chip, every time.

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce.


How to make perfect hot chips at home

This isn't so much a recipe as a technique. Making chips at home might seem like a lot of effort but I promise this method yields excellent chips with a deep crisp exterior and creamy interior. And who can resist a wholesome, crisp and golden home-made chip?

The type of potato you choose is crucial to success. It must be starchy but also golden. A very white potato like a russet will dry out before it's golden.

Note that the potatoes need to cook for about an hour, so you'll want to start well before you're ready to serve.

Danielle Alvarez's home-made fries. Photo: William Meppem

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg large chipping potatoes (such as sebago, coliban or pontiac)
  • about 1 litre oil for frying
  • salt
  1. Cut the potatoes into medium-large chips and place them into a large bowl of water. When you're ready to start cooking, drain and dry the chips with a clean tea towel or paper towel.
  2. Put the chips in a large cast iron or other heavy-bottomed pot. They should only half-fill the pot. If they go any higher you must find a larger pot for safety reasons.
  3. Pour in enough cold fry oil over the chips to cover them by 5-6cm. Place the pot on the stovetop and turn the heat to the higher end of medium high. For the first about 20 minutes stir the every few minutes. But once they start to soften you'll need to mix them more gently to avoid breaking them. Allow the oil to bubble more rapidly and once the chips have softened considerably, turn the heat to high. This will crisp up the chips and turn them golden.
  4. When their exterior has hardened and they begin to float, you can mix them more frequently and if any have stuck to the bottom, carefully scrape the bottom of the pot with a metal spoon to release them. When the chips are deeply golden (total cook time is about an hour) lift them from the oil using a spider (a long-handled wire-mesh skimmer) and toss them in a bowl with lots of fine salt.
  5. Serve with my Cuban fish sandwiches, steamed mussels or alongside a delicious steak or hamburger.

How To Make the Crispiest, Crunchiest, Perfect Potato Chip

Potato chips might come in every flavor under the sun these days, but all the jalapeño-cheddar dust in the world won't make up for a soggy bag of tater goodness. And here's the secret to the DIY crunch you crave.

Turns out when you're making your own chips, it's all about thickness. According to Serious Eats , 1/8 inch is the way to go—any thinner and they'll either burn or come out a bit too limp.

The next step? Washing out the starches and enzymes that'll dirty up your spuds. Specifically the enzyme tyrosinase, which when exposed to oxygen—like an apple core that's been left out too long—causes unpleasant browning.

Plain rinsing will get you far, but not far enough. Certainly not as far as boiling will. And definitely not as far as boiling in vinegar-spiked water:

Everyone who's ever baked an apple pie knows that different apples cook differently. Some retain their shape, while others turn to mush. The difference largely has to do with their acidity. Just like a potato, apple cells are held together by pectin. Moral of the story: acid slows the breakdown of pectin.

I sliced and rinsed one last batch of chips, this time parboiling them in a pot of vinegar-spiked water, allowing me to increase their boiling time from two minutes up to a full three before draining and frying them. the vinegar-boiled-then-fried potato chips were a resounding success.


Hayden Groves' guide to making perfect chips

For Chip Week we asked 2013's National Chef of the Year, Hayden Groves, for his top tips on how to make perfect chips. Read on for advice on the best chipping potatoes, how thick to cut them and how many times to cook them.

Hayden has won a number of prestigious accolades in culinary competitions such as the Parade Des Chefs where he is a four time Gold medallist.

Hayden has won a number of prestigious accolades in culinary competitions such as the Parade Des Chefs where he is a four time Gold medallist.

The ubiquitous chip – as a nation we just love them. We use 1.6 million tonnes of potatoes a year in the UK to make them. These days they come in many guises and sizes soggy and drenched in malt vinegar, served in yesterday's newspaper with a side of cod and a saline whiff in the air rustic skin-on wedges French fries from your favourite fast food chain and the now common triple-cooked chip, the preserve of the high-end gastro pub (no doubt the very mention of the word 'triple' assures of an extra £1 per portion mark-up!).

To make amazing chips at home, you first need to choose a floury potato, which are naturally good 'chipper' varieties, such as Arran Victory, Red Rooster, Agri, Yukon Gold or that classic all-rounder Maris Piper. Personally I favour a variety called Chippies Choice, specifically grown for this very purpose. Whichever potato you choose, allow 300g per person.

To peel or not to peel? That is the question. Regardless, the first step is to wash and scrub your spuds, then either peel and chip or leave the skin on for the rustic approach. Leave the cut chips to soak in lots of cold water for at least 10 minutes and then change the water again and soak for a further 5 minutes to remove the starch.

Next question: twice or thrice cooked? If it’s the latter, bring them to a gentle simmer in salted water until tender, then remove carefully and place them on a cooling rack to dry out.

You’re going to find a few haven’t survived the journey and have broken up. Believe it or not, although they don’t look the best, these are going to taste great – the chef's treat. Once cool, leave them in the fridge or even better, if you have space, the freezer for an hour. This helps remove even more moisture.

Next, it's time to pick your frying medium. There are several options here you can go with a vegetable oil like sunflower or rapeseed, or try something a little different like duck fat or beef dripping – even horse fat is popular in France!


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"Russets without a doubt," says Melbourne chef Paul Wilson. "They are long tubular shaped potatoes. The skin is terrific for frying too their low sugar content makes them the perfect foolproof chip."

Some say it's best to buy older spuds that have been on the shelf for at least a month (just ask your local greengrocer to confess to geriatric potatoes). And it's best to buy unwashed potatoes, as the industrial washing process can make potatoes absorb water – and water, as we all know, is the enemy of the crisp chip.

Animal fats have made a resurgence – duck fat is le bomb in some circles – and even beef dripping is getting a look-in with people who laugh in the face of cholesterol. Just remember animal fats burn easily. Quay head chef and owner of Melbourne's Merricote,​ Rob Kabboord​, says he used to be a beef dripping kind of guy "(back) in my Euro days and it makes for a really nice crisp chippy, but I prefer the cleaner flavour of chips cooked in oil".

Wilson concurs. "It's certainly delicious to cook in animal fats, but I like rice bran oil for wellbeing reasons. The neutral flavour and the oil's low burning point and shelf life means it can be reused and the potato's flavour is considered." Other oils to consider are groundnut, cottonseed and sunflower oil.

File this one under "personal preference". Kabboord is Dutch, which means one thing: he is patriotically sworn to defend the skinny fry against its wider interloper (and let's not forget the essential paper cone for serving). With their lack of uniformity, hand-cut chips look more pleasingly rustic and you can chamfer the ends – cut them on an angle – so they don't look like fence posts (Google "Jenga chip" for angry online dissertations on this despised architectural chip). Aim for roughly equal length and thickness so they cook at the same rate (about 10 to 15 millimetres is a good rule of thumb). As for the eternal skin-on versus skin-off debate: It comes down to preference, really, but we should point out that skin on can veer dangerously into wedge territory. Shannon Bennett's Vue empire does chips with the skin kept only on the ends, which seems an excellent rustic compromise.

The cooking

Triple cooking – is it a crock? No, says Kabboord, who serves triple-cooked chips (blanched in water, cooled, then cooked twice in oil, once at low heat and finally at high heat) at Merricote. "The triple cook just gets a better crispy outside and a fluffier middle than the twice-cooked chip – so yes, definitely triple cooked," he says. If you're feeding a small army and have reached Peak Potato, you should keep the peeled, cut spuds in water before cooking so they don't oxidise. According to Wilson, triple cooking is best when you're going for a fatter chip. For skinny fries, double cooking will be enough.

Rob Kabboord's triple-cooked chips

1. Cut your chips – Kabboord prefers to use a mandolin.

2. Rinse them to get rid of some of the starch.

3. Put chips in lightly salted boiling water and cook until soft (about five to six minutes).

4. Drain and let them dry a little (Blumenthal's version first chills them in the freezer to get rid of as much moisture as possible) then put them in hot oil at 140 degrees Celsius. Cook in small batches so the temperature of the oil doesn't drop too much. "They will take another six minutes or so. You can check them – there should be no crunch or colour yet, but they will be cooked and soft all the way through. You can then reserve them without going grey (oxidising) in the fridge until you are ready for them."

5. To finish, fry until golden in oil heated to about 180 degrees Celsius. Put them on absorbent paper to soak up any excess fat, then garnish with salt.

Pimp Your Chip

Salt is the chip's best friend, and to be a good friend it needs to be a good salt, such as Murray River or Maldon – blitz it so you don't get little salt rocks falling to the bottom.

Chips also enjoy the company of, in no particular order: Old Bay multipurpose seasoning (it's a blend of mustard, paprika, celery salt and more), chipotle salt, Sriracha, mayonnaise and gravy.

Blumenthal can't decide between ketchup (that's tomato sauce) and mayonnaise, so he's invented "ketchup-mayo – I love ketchup-mayo. Also malt vinegar".

How he prefers his chips is all about context. "With fish and chips, (I prefer) soggy chips – they're soggy because they're all wrapped in paper. And a chip butty. I love thick white bloomer covered in butter, with hot chips. That was what I had as a kid."

Paul Wilson, being British, loves simple sea salt and Sarson's​ malt vinegar: "It's a very English treat. For a cheffy thing I like to flavour my salts with mortar and pestle-ground baked herbs like rosemary. Chicken stock cubes mixed with salt is always a crowd pleaser."

Kabboord sticks to the Dutch brief and prefers mayonnaise instead of tomato sauce but also enjoys getting fancy with smoked salt. "This gets made for us in Holland there is a smokehouse where they smoke eel and other fish and they leave a tray of salt flakes in the smoker for about three months and it is just delicious, umami-rich salt, mixed with a little freshly cracked black pepper and some dried parsley." He also suggests making truffle salt by shaving fresh truffle into salt flakes.

And don't forget the Aussie favourite, chicken salt. For Heston's benefit, it's the umami salt bomb that contains actual chicken (roasted, braised then dried). And it's delicious.


Set the oven temperature too high, and the skin of the potato could burn before the inside is cooked. Set your temperature too low, however, your potatoes will take all day to cook. We found the sweet spot for baking potatoes to be between 400ଏ and 450ଏ. Depending on the size of your potato, expect it to bake for about an hour to an hour and a half within this temperature range.

You’ll want to stock olive oil and butter when making a baked potatoes, but keep in mind that these two ingredients aren’t necessarily interchangeable. Brushing your potato with olive oil (extra-virgin doesn’t have a high enough smoke point, so opt for regular olive oil) before it bakes helps crisp the skin while also boosting the flavor. On the other hand, we prefer to park a pat of butter on top of a sliced baked potato—then watch it melt into the soft, fluffy interior. We also love homemade compound butters for this application (try this flavor-packed Lemon Basil Butter recipe).


How to cook perfect potato chips

  • Sharpen the knife well. According to Dani García, it is important to cut the potatoes of the same size. Those same sticks are not purely aesthetic, they have a very important purpose. The perfect potato chips will cook at once. They will all be perfect frying at the same temperature. We can use a cutter or spend time on this first step, the sticks should be as equal as possible.
  • Remove all starch. This step is the one that achieves the ideal potato. We put the potatoes in a strainer and wash them until the water comes out clean, in this way all the starch will be removed. When they have released all the starch, drain them well and it will be time to salt them to taste.
  • Heat the oil in moderation. Dani García places the potatoes on a 7 out of 9 fire. According to his experience, if the oil is very hot, they can burn on the outside and remain undercooked on the inside, something that should be taken into account before putting the potatoes. Heat the oil, but in moderation, if you reach the maximum of your ceramic hob or fire.
  • Move the potatoes. Frying some potatoes is not just throwing them directly into the pan and letting the hot oil do its work. After about 4 minutes Dani moves the potatoes, in this way they will not stick to the bottom and we will be better cooked. After 8 minutes, the heat rises because the potato is already cooked inside, so you get the crisp exterior that arouses passions throughout the world.

17 minutes is the time it takes for a potato to fry perfectly . With these teachings from a Michelin-starred chef success is assured. It is time to lose the fear of making chips at home, homemade potatoes have nothing to do with frozen ones. With a little mayonnaise or sauce you will have the perfect snack or complement to any dish.


Extra-Crunchy Homemade Potato Chips | The Food Lab

Ok—that whole small-batch, "kettle-cooked" potato chip thing? I get it. I just don't like it.

Sure, I like the idea of thick-cut potatoes slowly bubbling in a copper pot carefully stirred by an old-timey craftsman wielding a well-worn spoon with honest, workingman's hands until the chips reach crisp, golden brown perfection. But to be honest, the vast majority of kettle-style chips simply taste burnt to me (anyone else with me here?). I suppose it has to do with a potato chip equivalent of the Pizza Cognition Theory that states: "The first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes, becomes, for him, pizza."

Having been raised on thin, crisp, pale yellow, super-salty Wise brand chips (remember when there used to be a riddle on every bag?), that's my image of how a chip should look and taste. Fundamentally, a chip should not be any sort of brown, nor the flavors that come with it. I want my chips to be subtle, tasting only of potato, grease, and salt.

On the other hand, kettle chips do have one great thing to offer: crunch. The industrial chips of my youth were tasty, but really, they were more crisp than crunchy. In my mind, the ideal chip would combine both of these elements The blond color and straight-forward salty potato flavor of a thin, old-school chip, and the hefty crunch of a kettle chip.

And since there currently aren't any of them on the market, the only thing I could do was try to make them myself.

Crunch Time

Some quick testing immediately answered the question of what it takes to make chips crunchy: it's the thickness.

I fried up a couple batches of chips in 325°F peanut oil, slicing the same potato on a mandoline at different settings. At 1/32nd of an inch, the chips were paper-thin Thin enough to read through. They cooked extremely fast, and had a tendency to burn. At 1/16th, they were closer to a normal potato chip. Mildly crisp, but not shatteringly crunchy. 1/8th inch chips were the way to go. Thin enough that they didn't come off as tough, but thick enough to add some real heft and weight to the crunch.

But glance back at that picture, and you immediately see the problem I saw: It was far too dark. Let me explain why.

A chip gets crisp through two processes. First, as the chip heats, water within the individual cells vaporize—this vaporizing bubbles are what you see as fried foods cooked. Next, hot oil moves into the empty spaces left behind. Essential, you are dehydrating the chip, and then filling it up with oil.*

*one of the reasons why fried chips taste so much better than baked chips is because when baking, you get dehydration, but not oil saturation.

A potato also contains starch and simple sugars, both of which undergo the process of caramelization when heated to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time. So my chip was getting too dark because by the time the it had dehydrated and crisped, the sugars had caramelized far too deeply, acquiring the brown (and sometimes burnt) flavors that are such a turn-off for me.

What if I just cooked it a bit less? No good. Unless I cooked all of the water out of it, it quickly turned soggy.

As long as you see bubbles when the chip is submerged, there's still water in there, so I knew that in the future, every batch of chips must be cooked until the bubbling completely stops.

Here's the dilemma: In order to get my chips crisp, I must remove water and replace it with hot oil. But hot oil causes starches and sugars to brown, giving my chips an off flavor.

The fact that I want my chip crisp and I need to use oil to get there is a given, which leaves me only one choice: get rid of those excess starches and sugars.

Washed Out

The first step to getting rid of excess starches was a simple one: I just washed it away.

As soon as you cut open a potato, its cells rupture, releasing exposing starch molecules, simple sugars, and a number of enzymes. One of these enzymes, tyrosinase reacts in the presence of oxygen creating the characteristic brown discoloration you see on apples and potatoes.

Here are two potato slices. One of them has been rinsed in a few changes of cold water, while the one of the right was placed directly on the plate.

The deep discoloration of the one on the right is an indicator that tyrosinase—and by extension all of the other starches and sugars that were inside those potato cells with it—are still alive and kicking. The one on the left, on the other hand, has had at least most of the junk rinsed off of its surface.

Frying these two potato slices side-by-side confirms this theory:

But neither one of those chips is quite as blond as I'd like it to be. You see, starch's relationship with potatoes runs pretty deep—it takes more than a simple rinse to separate the two. And when gentle coaxing doesn't work to get rid of it, I prefer to take the John Rambo approach: just blast'em.

I learned back when I was experimenting with french fries that a quick par-cook in boiling water before frying help accomplish this goal: heating up starch granules in the presence of water causes them to absorb water and expand. Eventually, like little water balloons, they burst, expelling the starch into the water where it can be safely dumped down the drain.

Would the same technique work for my chips?

I sliced and rinsed another batch, then plunged them into a pot of boiling water and cooked them as long as I could before they began to show signs of falling apart (as pectin reaches higher temperatures, its glue-like powers eventually break down). I then drained them on a clean kitchen towel, and dropped them into the hot oil until they stopped bubbling. Better, I thought, but still not quite where I wanted them to be. They were still coming out light golden in the center with the very edges turning quite dark.

I needed a way to be able to boil the potato chips a little longer in order to expel even more starch, without allowing them to disintegrate. Now, this may seem like cheating, but here's a secret: I knew the answer already, because I had the exact same dilemma with those french fries (shhh. don't tell). Here's what I discovered there:

Everyone who's ever baked an apple pie knows that different apples cook differently. Some retain their shape, while others turn to mush. The difference largely has to do with their acidity. Thus super tart apples like Granny Smith will stay fully intact, while sweeter apples like a Macoun will almost completely dissolve. Just like a potato, apple cells are held together by pectin. Moral of the story: acid slows the breakdown of pectin.

I sliced and rinsed one last batch of chips, this time parboiling them in a pot of vinegar-spiked water, allowing me to increase their boiling time from two minutes up to a full three before draining and frying them.

Here are the mugshots. From left to right, you've got vinegar-boiled potatoes, regular boiled potatoes, simply rinsed potatoes, and potatoes that were fried immediately after cutting.

As you can see, the vinegar-boiled-then-fried potato chips were a resounding success. As crisp and crunchy as any of them, with the subtle, mild taste of the potato chips of my youth. Unlike with the french fries, which retain some internal moisture, because potato chips are cooked completely dry, the vinegar flavor doesn't come through at all—just pure, unadulterated, greasy (and I mean that in a good way), salty, potato flavor.

Now that's what The Food Lab is all about—observing the similarity between apple pies, french fries, and potato chips, and taking lessons from one to help solve problems in the other.

And darn it, there I went and did it again. I keep promising myself I'll be less long-winded next time, but nope. Now I don't even have the room to tell you about the fun tinkering I've been doing with the French onion dip I'm about to dunk these into. But I'll leave you with this question: What do crispy chicken skin and caramelized onions have to do with each other?

More tests, more results! Follow The Food Lab on Facebook or Twitter.

Continue here for our recipe for Extra-Crunchy Potato Chips


Preparation

Step 1

Slice potatoes about ⅛” thick (a mandoline helps). Place in a large bowl, add cold water to cover, and stir to release starch drain. Repeat until water runs clear. Return potatoes to bowl cover with ½ cup distilled white vinegar and 6 cups water. Let sit at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Drain pat dry.

Step 2

Fit a medium heavy pot with thermometer pour in oil to measure 4”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 300°.

Step 3

Working in 6 batches and returning oil to 300° between batches, fry potatoes, turning occasionally to cook evenly, until golden brown and crisp (oil will have quit bubbling), about 5 minutes per batch. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined wire rack. Season with salt.

Step 4

DO AHEAD: Potatoes can be fried 6 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.

How would you rate Crispiest Potato Chips?

this is great but alas i did not get to try them they look very tasty though thanks

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Roast Veggie House Mix

  • Author: Sneh Roy
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Pantry
  • Cuisine: Gluten Free, Vegan

Description

A great pantry spice-mix for roast veggies.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 5 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons garlic granules

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Fill in an air-tight lidded mason jar and store in your pantry for a couple of weeks. Use as desired.

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