Pop open a bag while watching a movie and you’ll find yourself with nothing but greasy fingers an hour later. Pick some up on your way to the party you forgot to make an appetizer for, and they’ll still disappear in record time. Potato chips are America’s favorite snack for a salty, crunchy, over-the-top addictive reason. I personally prefer the potato chip that folds into itself in the fryer, the kind with a crunch that echoes throughout the house.
There are two circulating stories of how the potato chip was invented. In Saratoga Springs, New York, a customer of chef George Crum repeatedly sent an order of fries back for being too thick. Frustrated, Crum sliced the potatoes laughably thin. The customer raved about the result and the “Saratoga Chip” was born. The potato chip is also rumored to have been invented by Crum’s sister who accidentally dropped a potato peel into hot oil.
While potato chips became a phenomenon, any vegetable could have fallen into the oil that day with similar results. So, why do we tend to back away slowly when offered a veggie chip? For those riding the trendy kale train, there is little more satisfying than the first flaky bite of a roasted kale chip. Sweet potato chips can magically be seasoned into a dessert. Even the juiciest tomato can be dried down to chip form. It’s a largely untapped snack that deserves its due.
Instead of relying on store-bought veggie chips, raid your fridge. The trick to a satisfying at-home chip is the thickness. A sharp knife will work well for thinly slicing any vegetable. For more uniform prep, take a mandoline to sturdier items like carrots, sweet potatoes and taro. Leafy greens, like kale, only need to be torn into pieces.
Microwaving, oven roasting, frying, and dehydrating are all valid methods for homemade chips. While you can fry at home, you really don’t need to. Using small amounts of high quality oil and seasoning before popping veggies in the oven will yield a perfect, flavorful chip without the extra fat. Your cooking time will depend on the vegetable’s thickness. Greens, for instance, will crisp in about 15 minutes at 350° and burn soon after if you don’t keep an eye on them. Sturdier vegetables can take up to 30 minutes.
The notion of chips=good could be put to use here. Try reintroducing yourself to formerly irksome veggies in chip form and see if your mind changes. Not a fan of beets? Give it a go. What is jicama? Delicious is what. Plus, because you can control how much flavor from fat you impart on your chips, post-binge guilt can be a thing of the past.