Sweet potato chips beat potato chips by a mile. I hadn't cooked these in years, which is a real shame—so many missed opportunities for pleasure! Sweet potato chips are dense, flavorful, nutritious, and compulsively eatable. They all but jump into your hand without your being aware of it. I mean look at them. Are they not a picture of fall's beauty? They were to Donna, who, spotting them as I cut up the roasted chicken they accompanied and got off this quick hip shot before they cooled.
So good, so easy.
How to cook sweet potato chips (points of deep-fried root vegetable finesse):
- 1 pound/500 grams (or more) sweet potatoes, well-scrubbed and sliced a little under ⅛th of an inch, thin as a large coin.
- 1 quart/liter canola oil
- fine sea salt
- Use a big heavy pot; I use a 7-quart Dutch oven. I like to get the oil pretty hot, 350 to 375 degrees, because the chips will cool down the oil quickly as the water steams out of them. Work one potato at a time. When the oil is getting up to temperature, slice the first sweet potato (it's really really helpful to have a mandoline; I recommend the Benriner mandoline; if you don't, it makes a great gift idea!). When the oil is hot, deal the chips quickly into the oil so they don't stick to one another. You can try dumping them all in and stirring vigorously to separate them—this sometimes works.
- While they're cooking, slice the next potato. Line a large bowl with paper towel. Stir and flip the chips. They should take between five and ten minutes to cook, but don't go by time. When their bubbling settles and they look done, fish one out, let it cool a moment, then taste. If it's soft, keep cooking them.
- When they're done scoop them out. I use an Asian basket strainer, sometimes called a spider, a fantastic tool for all deep frying. Try to get them all up at once, let them drain a moment. Then dump them into the towel lined bowl. Lift the salt container with your dominant hand and sprinkle the chips lightly while shaking and jumping the chips in the bowl. This is critical for chips and fries: the immediate shaking while salting. It shakes off excess oil, ensures an even salting, and it prevents the chips on the bottom from steaming under the weight of the others and becoming soggy.
The result: crisp salty beautiful chips.
If people are in the kitchen with you, set them out to eat immediately while you cook the next batch. If you're serving them with a meal, put the bowl in a 200 degree oven while you do the next batches.
- Hot oil in a big heavy pot.
- Don't crowd the chips, give them plenty of oil to swim around in.
- Shake the bowl of chips while salting, immediately after they come out of the oil.
These are real treats. So try to make them as much as possible before you die. I'm forty-seven and I'm starting now.