Friday, May 31, 2013

Classic Snack Made From Scratch: Salty Snacks

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Now, we always crave that favorite salty snack of ours and it maybe chips,pretzels,corn nuts or even wheat thin.However now, what if I were to tell you that you can make these salty snacks in your very own home, by using simple ingredients and basic ideas.Well now your in for an adventure because I took this challenge and choose to two recipe to test out from the "Salty Snack" Chapter.

So to begin, the first recipe that really shot out for me to make, was the all popular potato chip.This salty,crunchy and full of flavor snack is at every party that you can think of and everyone has their favorites.So within this potato chip recipe,the author has a big challenge up her sleeves to authenticate the original flavor combo of the all popular Sour Cream and Onion potato chip.I can see her going through many seasoning trials to best fit the original in her eyes.However, is her final seasoning choice able to impress a reader like me? Well we will soon find out?

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So to start, I have to let everyone know before even trying out this recipe that they must follow the equipment listed in the recipe.Along with being very cautious when using any electric deep fryer, homemade fryer or mandolin slicer.I don't want anyone burning or cutting themselves when testing out this recipe for themselves.So since we got all that important safety covered, lets get down to the recipe.

Well to begin, this recipe is quite informative along with giving choices and simple directions for the reader's.Now this recipe may be simple to follow;however it can involve steps that can be a learning curve for some.Especially for people like me that are brand new to making deep fried potato chip.So since you have been warned about this don't let it scare you away from taking the challenge because its actually a really fun process and I learned so much about deep frying and seasonings.

Now when I mention learning curve, it mostly has to do with the cooking aspect of the recipe.The first lesson learned is that blanching is very important towards the texture of the potato chip and the author even explains in the recipe why we should do this.It's quite a simple process of  boiling potato slices for a very short time without overcooking them.Trust me,you don't overcook them because you will just end up with slices for mashed potatoes.Its best to test out a few slices to figure out the best time for boiling, since the recipe only gives you an approximate time.Its always good to have extra potatoes laying around for anything that might get away from you.Trust me, it can happen.Blanching is quite simple, but it can go very wrong if you do not follow the steps correctly.

Now for the second lesson that I learned was about deep frying potato chips.This took some time to figure out the best time to fry this potato slices without overcooking or have them undercooked.I ended up with a majority of potato chips with a great golden color and crunchy texture along with more then a few that were just undercooked becoming very soft.I was super lucky that most of them came out really good for the texture part and only a few were wasted.It definitely takes time to find the best timing for frying potato chips.

Then lastly, a really good lesson learned for making homemade potato chips is that its definitely fun and worth wild to make them;however it can be quite time consuming and you definitely need the patience to finish the recipe.So you have been warned! Be sure to have lots of time on your hands for anything that might arise for you in this recipe.

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  Now for the moment of truth, did the author Casey impress me by her seasoning choices and texture of the finish product.Well I was excitingly surprised how great the flavor combo of this chip was and how spot on it was to the original.I loved how Casey used simple ingredients to create this seasoning blend to create a flavor that just popped with every crunchy bite.The chips were slightly thicker and super crunchy like a kettle chip and were super addicting.Definitely a recipe I'll be redoing to get even better results in my frying technique.

I definitely recommend the recipe for anyone that wants to make their own potato chips by scratch;however you might want to double up on the recipe because these chips will not last long.Trust me! So take on the challenge,don't be afraid and just have some fun! Hey! Even put your own adaption on it! Well stay tune for my next recipe review for Salty Snacks! Can you guess what snack I tried out!

Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips

Yields: 4 cups

Total: 1 hour ( My Tip: Give yourself an hour and half more)

Difficulty: 2 ( My Tip: Depends if your new to deep frying)

Special Equipment: Electric deep fryer,(or a large pot with candy/oil thermometer) Mandoline,cut resistant gloves (optional)
heatproof tongs,or mental skimmer or mesh strainer.Spice grinder,mini food processor,(my tip: or blender)

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2 pounds (about 4 medium) Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
2 tbsp buttermilk powder ( My Tip: Found in bulk section) 
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried chives
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp powdered sugar
1/8 tsp mustard powder 
Vegetable or Canola oil for frying (Large Jug)

Prepare The Potatoes

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I filled a 4 quart stockpot with water and brought it to a boil over high heat.Then lined a large rimmed baking sheet with a kitchen towel.Then I rinsed and peeled the potatoes,then sliced 1/8 inches thick on a Mandoline.( Recipe Recommendation: use a metal mesh cut resistant glove) Then I transferred half the slices to the boiling water and cook them for exactly three minutes.Be sure not to overcook the potato slices,the picture below is what overcooked potato slices look like.The recipe gives us an approximate boiling time of 3-5 minutes.I learned exactly three minutes is the best time before potatoes slices fall apart.You can test out what the best time might be for you by testing a few slices before half a batch.

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Overcooked potato slices,not what you want for potato chips.This is what happened  to me at 5 minutes of boiling.I had to repeel and slice two more medium potatoes to replace.
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Then I gently and quickly removed the slices with heatproof tongs at 3 minutes (or can use a metal skimmer or mesh strainer,then I drain the slices well in a colander, and transferred them to the towel lined baking sheet in a single layer.Pat dry with additional towel.Repeat with remaining potatoes.

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Then I placed the buttermilk powder,salt,chives,onion powder,sugar and mustard powder in a bowl and whisked thoroughly.Then I placed the seasoning blend in the blender and blend thoroughly.Recipe says to use spice grinder or processor.I found a blender works quite well.

Recipe Note: Potato slices and spice mixture can be prepared a day in advance.Slice the potatoes,but don't boil them,and refrigerate them overnight in cold water to cover,and keep the spice mixture in an airtight container.

Fry And Season the Chips

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I heated at least 2 inches of vegetable or canola oil to 350 F to a 4 quart stockpot.Then I lined a baking sheet with paper towels and an upside-down wire cooling rack.

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Then I added the potato slices in batches to the hot oil and fried them until golden brown and fully cooked.Frying time will vary depending on the equipment,so you have to watch carefully. (My tip: be sure to watch if the center of the potato slices are no longer soft and are golden brown).I then removed the chips with heatproof tongs,or metal skimmer or mesh strainer.Then I drained them well on the lined baking sheet for about 1 minute.

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I then poured the spice blend into a gallon size zip top bag.Then I placed the chips in small batches into the zip lock bag,sealed and shook the bag to gently distribute the spices.Then I removed the chips and repeat with the remaining potatoes.(My tip: Do not leave the fried potato slice in the spice blend bag to long)

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Serve the potato chip warm or room temp.these chips are best eaten the day they're fried.

Why We Are Boiling Our Chips?

"Every potato is a waterlogged vessel of starchy liquid just waiting to escape.The more of this liquid we can get out of the potato before frying,the crisper the final chip will be.For thicker chips, like waffle fries a low temperature fry kick-starts the process,but whisper-thin potato chips like these would burn before ideal the ideal amount of starchy water was expelled.A dip in boiling water is safer and leaves us with golden chips"

Filtering The Oil For Reuse.

Books Version:

First,let the oil cool to room temperature in the vessel that you used for deep frying.Simply move the pot off the hot burner and leave it uncovered until cools.

 Place a funnel in the mouth of a clean,seal-able container (the plastic jug your oil came in is a perfect choice,if its empty, if not,mason jar,wine bottle, or seltzer bottle will work as well.Just make sure the container large enough to hold all the oil that you used in deep frying. Then place a fine mesh strainer or paper towel in the mouth of the funnel to catch any fried bits or bobs that might cloud up the oil.Those bits will cause the oil to become rancid.

(Adaption of filtering oil without a funnel)

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Use a very large glass measuring cup, set a large strainer on top and place a paper towel inside the strainer to catch any of the fried bits.Gently pour the cooled oil through the strainer/paper towel.This will help it strain.Then once the large measuring cup fills half way,remove the strainer,set aside and pour small amounts into a small measuring cup.Then slowly pour the clear oil into the empty container.(This is less of a strain on your wrist then to lift the large measuring cup) Then repeat all these steps until all oil is strained and put back into the container and then seal up for next time

You can reuse the oil,filtering each time,until you notice darkening.You have about 8-10 uses out of this oil until its kaput.However be warned that each time you fry food it will give off a distinct odor such as seafood or salami.However if your using this oil over again and only used it for plain doughnuts, chips etc.You will be left with a very mild sweet smell.

When the oil is no longer useable,do not pour it down the drain.You must recycle it! 

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