Over the years, I’ve taken on the persona of being the “food project” guy at Primal Palate. I love doing all sorts of projects: curing and smoking bacon, brewing your own ginger beer, and hacking the perfect fried wonton (look for ALL THREE in Make it Paleo 2 – and to be fair, Hayley perfected the Fried Wontons, I just helped fry them perfectly.)
And now, you can add to that list the perfect sweet potato chip. I don’t take saying that lightly, and it’s also not a diss on anyone else’s recipes (there can be many versions of the perfect chip, in my opinion, and this is my “perfect” version).
Given how frigid it was here earlier this week (in the 20’s Fahrenheit as a high!) I’ve really been craving comfort foods. Chips are comfort food, right? I’ve also really enjoyed being in front of a warm stove! This little food project is perfect for a nice evening at home. We’ve enjoyed a lot of those lately; with Hayley focusing on recovery from Candida and me just wanting to support her, and have an excuse for some early hibernation.
I tinkered a bit with this recipe recently, and there are a few important methods you should note if you’d like to replicate it exactly. First, you’ll want to start with the best quality garnet or jewel yams (they’re really sweet potatoes). Look for ones that are relatively straight, and have approximately a 2-3″ barrel. Think about the size potato chip you’d like to make. Also keep in mind that they will shrink by about 50% while cooking, so start larger than you think is necessary.
If you already have sweet potatoes, great. The next step is to slice them as thin as you possibly can. There are two ways I’d recommend doing this. The first is with a very sharp, long-blade knife like a chef’s knife. (This is the knife we use. If you buy a knife like this, you’ll have it for the rest of your life. It’s an investment, and a worthy one if you cook.) You’ll want to have a very steady, firm hand in doing this. Aim to get slices between 1-2mm. Think about the thickness of your knife’s blade at the top… you probably want the chips to be -even thinner- than that. Also strive to make the cuts evenly across the chip. If one end is thinner and one is thicker, the chip will not cook evenly.
**IF you have one, you can also use an electric deli slicer. I’ve found this method to be exceptional in control AND in speed. For about $80, you can get a cheap deli slicer like the one we have and slice chips, bacon, or whatever else you’d like. While we don’t use it a ton yet, the recent discovery of using it to make chips is a GAME CHANGER.
On instagram, we also got suggestions of using a Chef’s Simple Slicer (which looks like a mandoline), about $50, and people said it worked great. I can’t say one way or the other, so give it a shot if you have one. Two other methods that did NOT work out: Our Oneida mandoline did not make even cuts, and our spiralizer couldn’t handle it either. It would slice too thick and break the “chips.” We’re going for perfection here, people… so “kind of okay” will not cut it.
Chips sliced? The next step is to heat some oil. My oil of preference here is refined, expeller-pressed coconut oil from tropical traditions. This is the kind that imparts no coconut oil flavor or aroma. We like the tropical traditions kind because it’s steam refined, and our good friend Liz Wolfe recommended it to us. You can use whatever oil you’d like. My other top picks would be lard and duck fat, and of course – unrefined coconut oil. All three of these are good for cooking at the temps required. Choose a higher-walled vessel like a sauce pan, and add enough fat to provide at least 3/4″ of oil at the bottom. The more oil you have, the more stable its temperature will be throughout cooking.
Heat your oil to 270° F. Keep in mind this is NOT a deep frying mission. This requires gentle-frying. Any higher, and you will burn your sweet potato chips. NO ONE wants burnt chips. So once the oil passes 280° F, all bets are off. Try to keep between 265-280° F. By all means, use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature at all times.
The last step is time the fry perfectly. For the knife-sliced chips which were about 1-2mm, it took 4 minutes, 30 seconds at 270F. For the 1mm chips sliced with the deli slicer, they cooked in about 3 minutes, also at 270. You will know the chips are done cooking when they are golden and bubbled, somewhat rigid in the oil, and the bubbling slows down dramatically. At 270, there is little risk of overcooking the chips if you leave them in there too long, so it’s not important to time it down to the last second. Just be aware that your chip thickness will impact how quickly they cook. Flip the chips every so often in the oil, and remove once they have finished cooking. Transfer them to a wire rack with tongs, and immediately sprinkle with fine sea salt or pink himalayan salt.
I hope you guys love this recipe. I’m so excited about how well I got these to work after some playing around with the slicing and cook temps. Let me know what you think in the comments below.