The Classic Potato Chip
The origin story, and my personal recipe.
Before I get into how I make these charmingly crispy chips, I want to see if anyone is familiar with this little story.
I will be telling it as I remember it, so pardon if it’s butchered.
A long time ago...
A hot headed French chef is informed that a customer is disappointed with the potatoes that he’s been served.
“Monsieur says, there is no sear on the potato, and they’re cut comically thick.” the waiter explained.
Not wanting to accept defeat, the aggravated chef proceeded to slice a thin cut of potato, and sear it in oil until it was very dark and crunchy. The new dish was then sent to the picky diner in hopes of appeasement.
A few moments later, the waiter returned and begrudgingly said. “The customer says that the potatoes are still inedible, and cut grossly broad.”
Suddenly something snapped in this poor chef’s mind. He began seeing red, and ferociously smashed the China plates around him.
He then grabbed a knife, held down a potato and meticulously cut it into razor thin slices as he shouted out horrid obscenities.
He cooked these slices in a large amount of boiling hot oil until there was nothing potato left about them. Manic and out of breath, the chef sent the “chips” out to the diner.
The customer then, finally, sang undying compliments of the chef’s abilities.
A crisis was narrowly averted, and a new phenomenon was born.
Sadly, I will never know what actually happened on that frightful day. What I do know however, is that everybody prefers their potatoes (and chips) in a very particular way. Just as the picky French diner did.
I’m going to share with you how I cook chips, and some pro tips to make sure that yours meet everybody's standards.
Where to start? The starch!
Simply wash your potatoes and slice 1/8 of an inch thick on a mandolin. You could do this by hand, but you will find that the exact consistency is important in the cooking process.
Next, we need to rinse all the excess starch out, so place the sliced potatoes in a container and run cool water over them continuesly in a sink. Over time the water that runs off the overflowing container will become clear, that’s when you will know that the extra starch has been flushed out.
Here is the first separation between a run of the mill chip, and a side garnish that deserves a trumpet fanfare.
Before you fry your chips, hold them underwater in a brine for 24 hours. This will flavor them from the inside out, and make them easy to cook to a crisp perfection.
First, cover the potato slices in water completely. Then whisk in a 1/4 cup of salt and a 1/4 cup of white vinegar for every gallon of water used to submerge the chips. This can be done on any scale, from a few ounces, to a 5 gallon bucket.
Drain the potatoes from the brine completely. Let any excess water run off your chips before frying, dont rush this step. Move to a deep fryer. Once the chips are in the oil, agitate vigorously for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the fryer when the chips are just slightly under the golden color you are looking for, they will continue to cook subtly after removed from the oil due to the residual heat.
Again, the most important thing to remember when frying the chips is that they need to be moved constantly. If they stick together you will be stuck with a tough bite of underdone potato, needless to say, it’s very unpleasant.
Transfer your chips to a sheet tray or large bowl to cool down. Add salt while the chips are still hot if you want additional seasoning. Your potato chips are done and rival all that have come before them!