Monday, February 27, 2006

Yellow Sweet Potato Crisps

Sweet potato chips are a wonderful take on the original, I think, especially when they are lightly sprinkled with coarse sea salt. In the past when I have tried to make these myself, I have run into two dilemmas:

1. Sweet potatoes are, well, SWEET, and all of that sugar loves to burn.

2. If you don't get the chips thin enough they will completely char before getting fully crisped throughout.

So, I set out to do some homework. I was looking for technique advice, even though I think my potato chip technique is pretty good, but ended up finding the solution to my problems, the humble yellow sweet potato. Yellow sweet potatoes have much less sugar are are firmer and starchier than their orange-fleshed brothers. They have a flavor and texture closer to a standard white potato, which bodes well for my success.

I set out to make these crispy delights as such. Take one large, long yellow sweet potato and peel with a vegetable peeler. Using the same peeler, start peeling uniform slices from the potato. The peeler should help to keep the thickness the same, and as long as you don't care about having round chips (so last year), it's very simple. Obviously, use a mandoline if you have one, but I don't and I'm rather proud of my method.

One potato makes a big pile of chips, and they don't keep super well, so only make as many as you need. Dunk the raw slices in a bowl of ice water, strain, and then dunk again. This helps rinse off some of the starch that prohibits crunchiness. Pat the raw chips dry with some paper towels.

Heat an inch or two of oil (I use a combination of canola and olive) over medium to medium high heat. You want it hot, but not smoking. Test the oil by dropping in a couple of chips. They should be golden and crispy within 2 minutes. Working in batches, fry the chips, using tongs or a slotted spoon to toss them in the oil occasionally. Drain on several layers of paper towels, and sprinkle with salt.

These are excellent while they are still warm, extremely crispy and delicate, but unless they are your main course it's pretty tough to make them and an entree. I recommend spreading them out on a cookie sheet and warming them for 3 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Delicious with burgers, tonight we are having them with seared tuna mini-burgers. Yum!

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