When I was growing up, there were many special things I looked forward to at my grandparents’ apartment in Queens. For instance, my Grandpa Alfred, who had been a pattern maker for Simplicity and was an excellent tailor, had made a custom fabric clubhouse that cleverly spanned the small space between the arm of a couch and the spindles on a wall divider between the living room and dining room. When it was up, it was like a magic tree house — a perfect, private spot for me to hide. Then, with just a quick undoing of fabric ties, it could fold away until my next visit.
Visiting my grandparents also meant Alfred’s Delights, the only food I remember my grandpa cooking aside from making charoset at Passover. He’d cut a potato into quarter-inch slices, and then blister them in a cast iron pan, without any oil. A sprinkle of salt finished them off. I remember them being scalding on the outside, and just cooked and chewy on the inside. It wasn’t so much that I loved their flavor, but I loved that my grandpa made them for me, and they were a special location-specific treat. I can’t help but thing of Alfred’s Delights whenever I am slicing potatoes, so he was on my mind as I prepped the spuds for this side dish.
Making these chips was an experiment. The first potato was sliced on a mandoline, at about a 1/8″ thickness. But I thought these would be too thick. I sliced the next potato by hand, using my super-sharp santoku. I don’t normally love this knife, but for this type of work it’s perfect — I was able to easily halve the thickness of the first batch and make semi-transparent, 1/16″ slices of potato.
Potatoes are naturally really wet, and I wanted to make sure that they’d crisp up like a proper chip when I baked them. So I let all the slices dry, in a single layer, on some tea towels on my kitchen counter. I left them out for 3 hours, until they were all dry to the touch. Yes, they did discolor a bit, but once they are baked you won’t notice it.
I preheated the oven to 450° F. I arranged the potato slices in a single layer on a non-stick cookie sheet, and then lightly brushed each slice with a scant amount of olive oil. I use a silicone brush, which I love — no bristles left behind! You need to be sparing with the oil, because it won’t really absorb into the potato and you don’t want them to be greasy. Flip each slice and brush them again. Sprinkle with salt, sparingly — you can always add more later. My 1/16″ chips were done in 18 minutes, but start checking at 15 minutes. The 1/8″ chips took longer, about 22 minutes.
My motivation for making potato chips was simply to see if I could prepare some of our farm share potatoes in a way my boys would try. My friend Jen suggested chips, and she was right — they tried them. Unfortunately, I did over-salt them a bit, and that was the boys’ complaint. They were pretty impressed that potato chips came out of our own oven, though! The chips stayed crispy stored, sealed, on the counter overnight.