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~ Mel's #1 March Madness Munchie: Potato Chips ~

IMG_4377Joe has been watching the NCAA basketball tournament for what seems like forever.  The media calls this:  March Madness.  I couldn't agree more.  It is madness.  Personally, I don't much see the point of any team playing a season full of more basketball games than I can count, only to be defined by how they fare in this hyped-up forum.  Simmer down.  This is just one woman's opinion, and, if you think I don't "get" the basketball tourney, you ought to hear what I have to say about collegiate wrestling and the NCAA in general!

munch/vb:  to chew with a crunching sound

IMG_4260Over the course of the past month, I've "caught" my husband eating substantially more potato chips than usual.  I hear the crinkling of the bag opening, I hear the sound of him munching, I hear the crushing of the empty bag before it hits the trash.  Even when potato chips aren't on my errand list, he never makes a stop at the store without coming home with a bag or two of potato chips.   This doesn't happen during football season.  It took me a moment, but, I figured out why: Because I watch and enjoy college football.  On football Saturdays, my menu always includes a special game day "guy snack" for him!

Fact:  Homemade potato chips will change your life!

Fiction:  Homemade potato chips are hard to make!

IMG_4294Making your own potato chips couldn't be easier, and, trust me, "you can't eat just one".  Homemade potato chips will change your life, and, might even improve your marriage too. Most people make way too much work out of making them.  Trust me when I tell you, once you slice them, there is no earthly reason to go through the time consuming process of soaking them in cold water then drying them between layers of paper towels. How do I know this?  Because Alton Brown "told me so" on late night TV a long, long time ago!

Making real-deal French fries is rocket science!  

Making real-deal potato chips is child's play!

IMG_4265~ Step 1.  Preheat:

corn, peanut or vegetable oil

in deep-fryer according to manufacturer's instructions to 360 degrees.

Note:  Don't have a deep fryer?  Fill a 6-quart Dutch oven 1/3 full of oil and preheat it to 360 degrees via the aid of a candy thermometer.

IMG_4269~ Step 2.  Line a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with 2-3 layers of paper towels.  If you want to peel your potatoes, which I like to do, you'll need a vegetable peeler too.

~ Step 3.  Choose your weapon:

a Feemster's vegetable slicer, mandoline or chef's knife

6a0120a8551282970b0147e135f124970b-320wiMeet the Feemster's Famous Vegetable Slicer:  I bought two of these, for $5.00 a piece, about 20 years ago, from Marie Fedon, owner and operator of The Country Sampler (a kitchen store) here in Boalsburg.  I am sorry to report that "The Sampler" is no longer with us, but "The Feemsters" is available on-line at

I have all sorts of fancy mandolines and super-sharp knives, but I ADORE my little blue-bladed Feemsters.  I can slice any type of potato paper-thin in less than 1 minute!

IMG_4274~ Step 4.  The best potato chips come from russet potatoes.  From one 12-13-ounce russet potato, expect to get 40-48 chips (depending upon how thin or thick you like your potato chips). Peel each potato just prior to frying and slice it into 1/8" or thinner chips, about 24 at a time.  Slice each batch of 24 just prior to deep-frying, and:  uniformity in thickness is the key to potato chip success!

IMG_4286~ Step 5. Working as quickly as you can, carefully and safely, drop 24 slices of potatoes, one by one, into the hot oil.  Towards the end of each batch (around the 15th-20th chip), the oil is going to bubble up due to the water contained in the potatoes.  As long as you are aware of this, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.  Just keep your fingertips a safe 1"-2" away from the hot oil and you'll be ok.

IMG_4289~ Step 6.  Depending upon the thickness of your potato slices (1/8" or less), and, how your deep-fryer or stovetop regulates heat, the potato chips are going to need to fry at 360 degrees for 11-13 minutes. Thin ones for about 11 minutes, thicker ones for about 13 minutes. Once or twice during the frying process, use a large slotted spatula to dunk them into the hot oil, so they stay separated and brown evenly.

IMG_4296~ Step 7.  Using a large slotted spoon, remove the potato chips from the oil and transfer them to the paper towel lined baking pan.  

IMG_4305Take a moment to spread them out in a single layer and generously sprinkle them with a grinding of sea salt.

IMG_4334Four russet potatoes made all of these potato chips.  It's going to be hard to resist eating them immediately, but:  they will continue to crisp up as they cool.  I recommend allowing them to sit for 1 hour prior to indulging, or, better yet, uncovered overnight! 

IMG_4350Mel's #1 March Madness Munchie:  Potato Chips:  Recipe yields intructions to make as many deep-fried russet potato chips as you want to.

Special Equipment List: deep-fryer or 6-quart Dutch oven & candy thermometer; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; paper towels; vegetable peeler (optional) Feemster's vegetable slicer, mandoline or chef's knife; large slotted spoon

6a0120a8551282970b017d3cf61d77970c-800wiCook's Note:  ~ Do You Want (Perfect "French") Fries with That? ~  If that's the case, you can find my recipe in Categories 4, 15, 20 or 21.  While they're a bit more work, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside deep-fried French fries are just as delicious as crunchy real-deal potato chips any day of the week!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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