Potato chips must be the single most popular snack food in the country. Unlike our Cold, Hard Football Facts articles, we have no empirical data to support this belief. It's simply an observation we've made after years of unhealthy eating and parking-lot dining.
Unfortunately, every time we see someone eating a potato chip, it's of the store-bought variety. This is a disgrace, especially at tailgate. Here's why:
* store-bought potato chips don't taste nearly as good as those you've whipped up yourself in the parking lot before the game
* making potato chips is so easy and foolproof that you – yes, you, the fat guy sitting there at the computer – can do it faster than the time it takes you to go to the store and actually buy them
This is basically the same recipe as the one we use for our French fries. The only difference is the way you cut the potatoes.
Couple things you need to know first. One, you must use russet (or Idaho) potatoes. Other varieties of potatoes have lower starch contents and just don't cut it in the magnficent realm of fried potatoes. Two, mixing a little corn starch into the oil is something of a secret to making your fried foods crispier. If you forget the corn starch, your chips just won't get as crispy as they should. Here's how it's done (makes about 2 pounds of potato chips)
  • 4 large, oblong (think football shaped) russet potatoes
  • 1 to 2 quarts of vegetable or peanut oil, plus another 1/3 cup of oil
  • 1½ Tablespoons corn starch
  • Salt and pepper
  • Other select spices (optional), such as cayenne pepper, garlic salt, etc.
  • Vinegar (optional)
The night before the game, brush any dirt off the potatoes with your hands, or gently scrub clean with a dry, food-grade brush. Do not skin the potato. Hold the potato perpendicular to your body and cut it into circular slices, starting at one narrow nose of the potato and working your way to the other end of the potato. Slices should be relatively thin, usually less than one-eighth of an inch.
Mix the slices with the one-third cup of oil in a large, microwave safe bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave until tender, about 7 to 9 minutes. Pat dry on paper towels and let cool. When cool, store in an airtight container and bring them with you to the parking lot. (NOTE: In a pinch, you can do away with microwaving the chips and just slice them up and fry them on gameday. They'll still come out pretty good, but won't be as crunchy.)
On gameday, heat the oil to about 385-395 degrees in a cast-iron Dutch oven or in your tailgate deep-fryer. When oil reaches temperature, carefully drop in half the potato slices with fry basket. Cook about 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove, pat dry with towels and while still hot season with salt, pepper, vinegar or other spices of your choice. For a change of pace, sprinkle a little barbecue rub or Creole seasoning on your chips.