Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Potato chippy things

I almost sailed through December without a single post! Part of the problem is that my internet connection has become really terrible, so it takes forever to upload a photo -- the other part of the problem, of course, is that I'm really lazy. So here I am, squeaking one in with only a day or so to spare. This recipe was tucked in with a steak recipe at the back of an old Fine Cooking (Feb/March 2004). I only made it because I was trying to branch-out on the dinner repertoire, and it happened to be part of the steak dish I wanted to try. It was such a hit that my eldest daughter has asked for it just about every night since. It's also dead simple, quick, easy (am I repeating myself?), and deee-lish. Need any more excuses to try it?

The official recipe calls for one large potato, 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, and some salt. Since this is more of an idea than a recipe really, get about that quantity of those or similar ingredients and carry on! I started to wonder while I was preparing this post (and waiting for photos to upload) why the whole potato, po-tah-to thing doesn't apply to potato chips. You never hear "po-tah-to chips" but then it occurred to me that people who are inclined to say "po-tah-to" are also inclined to say "crisps" instead of chips, and when they say chips, they mean fries, so it really all works out in the end.

ANYWAY, the first thing you need to do is melt all that butter. Then slice those spuds into 1/8" slices. I dug out my trusty mandoline for this (the non-musical one -- not that I own a musical one, mind you, I just didn't want there to be any confusion out there). If you've seen the movie Ratatouille (and you should see this movie, if only for Peter O'Toole's awesome speech at the end), this is the tool Remy the rat used to prepare the movie's signature dish. I hope to post a ratatouille along those lines once summer gets here (or my patience runs out, whichever comes first) -- but if you can't wait, the one in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is the one to go for: it rocks.

You don't need to be too fussy about the 1/8" bit -- I found the tines on my fork are about this thick, so used that to calibrate the mandoline. The first time I did this though, I just used a chef's knife and ballparked it, and that works just fine too.

This dish brought back a quirky memory about my dad. He used to prepare something like this in foil on the bbq, and while he was chopping spuds he'd happily much away on raw chunks of them. This always creeped me out for some reason -- I'm not sure why a raw potato would be any different from a raw carrot. I even tried it, and they taste ok. But I remain on the *shudder* side of that idea. I'll keep working on it though; it will be fun to creep my kids out with the same stunt later.

Once the spuds are sliced, mix them with the butter and chopped rosemary in a bowl.

Then spread them out in a single layer on baking sheets. Two sheets are great for this since you can douse one sheet in salt and pepper (if you have kids who spew at the very thought of pepper), and the other can get just salt. In any event, give both a good sprinkle of salt once they're laid out on the sheets. You could add some chile pepper here too if you like. I'd like.

Then tuck the trays under a broiler on high. You can do one at a time if they're too big to fit all at once. Just do both sides of one sheet, then pop it in the bottom of the oven to finish while you cook the other sheet. They crisp up nicely in the bottom of the oven, so it is a good idea even if you do just one tray. Broil the top side of the spuds for about 4 minutes, then flip them over and broil the other side for about the same time. If you want them darker, I think it's best to do this on the bottom rack of the oven (still on broil) to prevent them from going too far too fast and doing something annoying like catching fire -- just sayin'.

Serve up with something else yummy like a great burger, and have a big huge smile while you're at it! Cooks tip: don't taste them before you get them to the table or you might eat them all (if you toil under the weight of such weaknesses like certain blog authors you may know.)

Peace to you all this new year, and all the best in the kitchen and any where else you happen to be!