Last week at Harmons I found something totally irresistible.
In the section where nuts and dried fruits are all packed in the same clear plastic and labeled with Harmons labels, there was a little tub of Fresh Veggie Chips. The evidence is long since gone, but the tub was filled with fresh chips made of orange and purple sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, tarot roots, zucchini, and another winter squash. The pieces were irregular and the colors were vibrant, with just a sprinkling of sea salt.
It was also $10 a pound.
The price caused me to think how easy it must be to make these at home. All it requires are a few easy tools: a mandolin, a variety of root vegetables, some light olive oil and a bit of salt.
Well that's just a challenge right there. A simple preparation of something that the store sells for highway robbery? I clearly signed up for that one on the spot, getting the free T-shirt and a credit card I wasn't aware of.
There are few simple things required: one is a mandolin. It's a simple piece of equipment that reminds me of an old fashioned washboard. It's a flat piece with a blade in it, and you rub your food item to cut up and down the flat board. Then, even slices fall through onto the counter top below.
Beyond that, you really just need a wide pan, like a cast iron skillet. Cooking shows and websites alike make one think that you need to use quarts of oil if you plan on frying anything. While it's true that it can often make frying faster, I have trouble using so much oil at once, and then having to dispose of it. I prefer a shallow frying technique, where I've only used a cup or two of oil, making the fry oil only about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Just enough to cook a thin slice of something, like delicious fall root vegetables!
Last Year: Flashback in 7 Links
Two Years Ago: Cabbage with Prosciutto, in honor of Italian
Three Years Ago: Stagg Chili pulled a fast one on me
Four Years Ago: You know it doesn't change right? [Review of Pei Wei Asian Diner]
Fresh Veggie Chips
* These aren't your regular Ruffles potato chips. You will have the very best results if you cut your vegetables so that they make shorter slices, rather than longer slices. Every vegetable has a "grain", or a direction in which the vegetable grew. Similar to a steak, cutting against the grain will produce a more tender chip. They are good hot, but they are also delicious cold. They could be stored in a covered container on the countertop for several days, but are best the first day.
blue potatoes, washed, with the ends cut off
orange sweet potatoes, washed, with the ends cut off
carrots, washed, with the ends cut off
green beans or other vegetables
light olive oil
Pour a shallow layer of olive oil in your wide pan. Heat the oil on the stove until a drop of water sizzles violently in the oil. It's important that you make sure the oil is hot enough when you begin frying. If it's too hot, it will start smoking.
Carefully following the directions for your mandolin, make thin slices of your vegetables. You will have best results if the vegetables are cut the short way. As in, if you lay the vegetable on its long slide, and then cut vertical slices, you will end up with the shorter pieces. Turning the vegetable up on its side, so it stands off the cutting board and slicing downward won't produce chips as tender.
Once you have sliced all your vegetables and all fingers are in tact, fry in small batches until the slices float, darken somewhat, and have bubbles in the surface. Depending on the amount of vegetables you cut, and the size of your pan, you will be doing multiple small batches.
Remove from the oil and dry on paper towels, sprinkling with salt while the slices are still hot.