As the days get shorter and the weather cools down, I prepare to "hibernate." I add piles of blankets to my bed, wrap myself in layers of flannel, and—most importantly—eat as if I'm storing energy for winter.
One of my favorite parts of my hibernation diet includes chips—homemade seasonal chips, that is. With so many hearty vegetables and spices in season, the tasty combinations of chip flavors are endless.
Without further ado, here are the basic ingredients, tips, and preparations that I use for my go-to hibernation snack!
Sweet potatoes are an obvious seasonal choice for chips, but branch out of your comfort zone with root vegetables like parsnips, beets, and carrots. As for fruit, apples and pears are famous fall flavors that taste fantastic in chip form. Check out this awesome fall produce guide from Saveur for more creative ideas. And now, onto our spices!
While simple salt and pepper are more than enough to bring out most vegetables' natural flavors, I encourage you to get creative with your favorite fall spices. Here are some yummy flavor combinations to get the wheels in your brain turning:
- Star anise, cloves, nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick with parsnip chips echoes the flavor of mulled wine.
- Cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla bean give apple chips extra warmth.
- Allspice, cardamom, and bay leaves add a hearty, earthy flavor to colorful beet chips.
- Ground ginger adds delicious complexity to sweet potato chips.
- Rosemary sprinkled onto pear chips as they bake in the oven introduce the pine flavors of oncoming winter.
Prepare your spices and set them aside. As you'll see in the section below, different methods will call for spice at different stages in the process.
Slice your vegetable as thinly as possible. You can use a mandolin, a hand slicer, a vegetable peeler, or even a very sharp chef's knife to get the job done!
I utilize three different methods for making chips in my kitchen, and I've listed them below.
- In a large saucepan, heat vegetable oil to 350°F.
- Add several plain chips—try to avoid crowding the pan—and let fry for several minutes.
- Once they turn golden-brown and crisp at the edges, remove chips from saucepan and transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
- Immediately shake a liberal amount of your chosen spices onto the chips. The residual heat creates moisture that allows the spices to adhere to the chips' surfaces.
Many people don't like deep-frying at home because it uses up so much oil. Oven baking requires much less oil—and is healthier, to boot.
- In a small saucepan, combine oil and desired spices over low heat.
- Allow the oil to warm up for a minute or two, then turn off the heat and give the spices a few minutes to infuse into the oil.
- Coat the chips evenly in the spice-infused oil, then line on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 350°F until the edges crisp and become golden-brown.
Microwaved chips are the quickest way to achieve crispy chip heaven; this method is so easy, it doesn't require steps! Simply spray your vegetable with nonstick spray, lightly sprinkle your desired spices, and stick 'em in for 4-5 minutes at full power. Now, how easy was that?
This article focused on great flavor combinations for autumn, but these great tips work for any season's hearty produce.
We at Food Hacks are big fans of chips in general. Never ones to waste good food, we like to come up with ways to reinvent stale chips as well as make plain and boring potato chips taste gourmet. And our love of chips isn't limited to vegetables or fruits: sometimes, we make chips out of salami.
Are you as chip-crazy as we are? Tell us all about it (as well as your favorite chip hacks) in the comments.