Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Microwave Sweet Potato Chips

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Some of you know about my microwave experiments driven by curiosity.  Last week I set out to make potato chips.  You can imagine my surprise when the microwave produced crispier results than the oven.  Since it worked so well with regular potatoes I decided to give sweet potatoes a try as well.

Sweet potato fries usually fall on the softer side, so I expected limp, soggy slices instead of chips.  Once again the microwave produced crunchy chips, even without oil.  All you need are sweet potatoes, a microwave with a turntable and parchment paper.  Oh, and the time and patience to watch the microwave action carefully.  If you don't babysit these little guys, they can go from a crispy crunch to carbon rather quickly.

When making french fries it helps to soak the potatoes in cold water to remove some of the starch.  I tried soak and no-soak methods for the chips and liked the results better without the soaking (not to mention the saved time and clean-up).  While soaking isn't important here, how you slice the potatoes is key.  I wouldn't suggest using a knife, it's just too difficult to get even pieces.  Each slice needs to be thin and uniform or you'll end up with soggy pieces of potato next to scorched chips.  Use a mandolin slicer or equivalent attachment to get the chips as thin as possible, about 1 to 2 millimeters.  I'm not quite sure what mine is called, but I used the old metal slicer pictured below.  You may be able to use a food processor attachment, but it really depends on the thinness your blade can achieve.  Sorry, I know that's annoying and unhelpful.

I sprayed the parchment paper with nonstick baking spray and sprinkled the potato slices with a little salt, but didn't use any other seasonings or oil.  I was worried the oil would trap in too much moisture, leaving me with soggy chips.  Cinnamon would be splendid, but I was concerned it would burn before the chips were done.  A side of cinnamon whipped cream for dipping would make a tasty alternative.  While the chips had a satisfyingly crunchy texture, they were a little lacking in flavor.  As for savory, I'm thinking a garlic, herb and salt blend or maybe a splash of balsamic would help?  I don't know, my brain was too fried from all those microwaves to try any flavor variations.  Let me know what happens if you try a sweet or savory version.

The success of this 'recipe', if you can call it that, requires a careful eye.  Since there is so much variation in microwaves, I can't tell you exact times.  I also don't have secret goggles to see the hot spots in your microwave.  What I can tell you is that I flipped, rotated and watched carefully (which may not be the best idea with a microwave).  Keep in mind that the chips will continue to cook slightly from residual heat.  The end product should be crunchy, not tough or leathery.  If your chips seem tough, microwave a little longer and they should crisp up.  Just be careful not to get them too brown and don't leave them unattended.

If you happen to be as bored, curious or impulsive as I was, then I wish you well on your microwave adventure.  Maybe I should rephrase that by saying I wish you success in your chip-making venture, not a microwave adventure.  It takes a little experimenting, but it's really not hard.  I'll save my other microwave stories for another day.  Thankfully, the only surprise here was the addictive crispy crunch all the way through.

Microwave Sweet Potato Chips

1 sweet potato

* Using a mandolin slicer, slice sweet potato into very thin chips, 1-2 millimeters.  I don't recommend trying this with a knife as it is difficult to get them both even and thin enough.
* Place a piece of parchment paper on a microwave-safe plate.  Spray lightly with nonstick baking spray.  Place one layer of sweet potato chips over parchment, making sure chips do not overlap.  Sprinkle with salt. Using a microwave** with a turntable, microwave on high for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes or until centers of a few chips just begin to brown.
* Flip chips over, rotating the chips in the center with chips on outside of the plate.  Continue microwaving and watching closely for 30 second intervals, rotating chips as needed for even browning.  Within 1-2 more minutes chips should be stiff and crispy, but not chewy.  Chips will crisp slightly upon standing.  Repeat with remaining potato slices.

**This recipe was tested using an 850-watt microwave. Times will vary greatly depending on the power of your microwave and the size of sweet potato slices.

Food for Thought: "Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination." -Roy Goodman

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