We knew that we could make great homemade potato chips in the deep fryer; we wanted to know if we could make equally good potato chips in the oven. So we started with the oven potato chips. We cut russets into thin slices, about an eighth inch thick and then soaked them in cold water. We spread aluminum foil on a baking sheet and greased the foil well. After the slices had soaked for twenty minutes, we spread the potato slices across the foil, brushed them with vegetable oil, and baked them at 425 until they were just starting to turn golden. We put them on racks to cool and sprinkled them with salt.
These chips were good but not as crispy as they should be. Back to the drawing board. We thought maybe a slower bake would draw more moisture from them and make them crispy. We lowered the temperature again and again. The best chips came at 325 degrees, slow baking for 20 minutes.
We then turned to deep fried potato chips.
We heated the oil in our deep fryer to 360 degrees. We fried them in small quantities until they started to turn a golden color, drained them on paper towels and then moved them to a rack to cool completely. Sprinkled with a little salt, they were delightful—much better than potato chips out of a bag.
And yes, the fried potato chips were much better than the baked chips.
Here’s what you do:
Pick good quality russet potatoes. Wash them and cut out any bad spots.
Cut them into 1/8-inch thick slices. You can do so with a knife; it’s a lot easier to get uniform slices that will cook uniformly with a mandolin or with the attachment to your mixer.
Heat the oil to 350 to 375 degrees. You can do so, on the stovetop or with a thermostatically controlled deep fryer. If you are frying on the stovetop, use a deep pan and a candy thermometer, and watch your work. If your oil becomes too hot, it can burst into flames.
Cook a small amount of potato chips at a time. If you cook too many, the potatoes will drop the temperature of the oil too far. Oil that is not hot enough will make your potato chips soggy.
Cook the potato chips until they are a light, golden color and begin to float.
Remove the chips to a paper towel to absorb grease. Sprinkle with salt and your favorite seasoning.