A Labor Camp Weekend (of frying)
This weekend was a lovely one spent up in Napa Valley. My friend Bronson has a house in the woods that he’s been trying to fix up. So this weekend he threw a labor camp party, inviting a bunch of his friends to come up with him and build stuff (fun stuff like concrete foundations!). Not a difficult proposal with a bunch of architects as friends. Since I’m a pipsqueak with some culinary skills, I was hired as camp chef. There was a breakfast of dried cherry scones and homemade granola, a lunch of tuna sandwiches and homemade potato chips, and turkey pot pies for dinner. And lemon poundcake with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. While that was certainly a big pile of cooking, the part that got me all giddy was the potato chips.
Bronson wanted to keep lunch simple, with some sandwiches and chips. When I heard that, all I could think was “Yes! I can make homemade potato chips!” At first he wasn’t too keen on the idea of making them ourselves (What is UP with all the fryer haters? We’re people too! I’ll fry anywhere, anytime. I don’t even need a deep fryer, just a pot. I even travel with my own splatter screen…), thinking it would be too messy. But he was swayed. Potato chips are very simple – you just need 2 ingredients: potatoes and oil. We went with a mix of sweet potatoes and yams. Oh yeah, I guess you need a mandolin too.
Mandolins make light work of slicing, and allowed me to get super-thin discs of potato.
The trickiest part is getting the temperature of the oil right. We didn’t have a thermometer with us, so it took some trial and error to get to the sweet spot, but I think 350 is about right. Once the oil temperature is set, they only take about 3 minutes to fry!
While they were still warm I tossed them with some salt, pepper, cumin and parsley.
They were way better than any chip I’ve ever gotten out of a bag. I think they’ll make it into the regular picnic rotation.