(Let me interrupt myself before I even begin: If I was not writing this based on both failure and success, it would have been titled “Gone in 60 seconds”. The successful output is that good. My TV snack never made it out of the kitchen. The first batch was gobbled up while the second batch was cooking. I almost didn’t have anything left to photograph!)
My experience with making Sweet Potato Chips (crisps) is being written up in two parts, based on two different sweet potatoes, as the first attempt went really well up until the end (when it really didn’t!) so the blog had to wait until the (thankfully) more successful second attempt.
In March this year, having had a packet of vegetable chips for dinner (as one does), I got to thinking about making my own, based on the sound logic that sweet potatoes surely must count as “sweets”. Shortly after that, I did my usual scan of the internet and found a few recipes – actually for something like this they are more like instructionals – which were quickly added to my “To Do” list. However, they were all oven based, took a fair amount of cooking time at high temperatures, and contained very strong hints that the chips were likely to burn. All enough to make me delay my experiments.
As a rule of thumb, I don’t like to use the oven unless really necessary and where there is enough in the oven to justify the electricity used and time taken. And, knowing that I would only experiment with one sweet potato the first time, the idea of heating the oven to 200C for just this seemed a bit over the top to me. Especially given that it seemed very likely that the first attempts would burn, and it would all be a bit of a waste. (And I was right, my first attempts were a bit of a waste, so I’m glad I didn’t go the oven route.)
So, it was back to searching, and soon I found what I had hoped for: a recipe for a microwave version from Rachel cooks. Simple and quick, and perfect for a once-off snack quantity of sweet potato chips.
Armed with this recipe, and a resurfacing of the hankering for chips, I popped to the shop and bought two sweet potatoes – one orange and one of the purple-skinned type. This was simply to experiment to see which cooked and (more importantly) tasted better.
I immediately set to work with the orange potato, and everything seemed to be going really well. I watched carefully as they cooked, opening the microwave every few minutes to ensure they were not burning. At 10 minutes, they were just about done, but were ever so slightly softer than I wanted. At 10 minutes 30 seconds, I had sweet potato charcoal. With the second batch I was so much more careful, watched it even more closely, and only set the microwave for 8 minutes. At which point I had sweet potato charcoal, just worse.
(I must just note here that, apart from the completely blackened parts, the burnt chips were actually still pretty good. Certainly good enough to warrant further attempts with this idea.)
A week later, I tried again, using the purple sweet potato. This time, I took even more care, and tried to apply the lessons from the first attempts. And boy, did it pay off! This is definitely a recipe I intend to use again and again.
Before I share the detailed steps, here are the key things to note when making sweet potato chips:
While you can use a knife to slice the potato, as I did, I’m guessing the recommended mandolin will be a real benefit. I intend using one next time (mum couldn’t lay her hands on it before, but has now). This is purely to ensure evenly thick slices. I like the slightly thicker chips, but the real aim is to get all slices the same thickness, whatever your preference. This way all the chips will require the same cooking time to reach the same stage. This prevents a situation with some chips starting to burn while others are still a bit soft.
- The thicker the slice, the longer the cooking time (and vice versa). Although the original recipe says 3-4 minutes, mine were nowhere near done at that point. 8-10 minutes in a 1100W oven is what was needed for my slices, even for the thinnest.
- Check the cooking chips at about 5 minutes, then every 2 minutes. If they seem almost – but just not quite – done, only continue to cook for a few seconds at a time. There is a very (very!) fine time difference between slightly underdone and overdone chips (did I mention ‘charcoal’?)
- The chips may still seem slightly soft when they also seem to be getting brown at the end. Take them out of the microwave at this point, they will crisp on the plate as they cool.
- Both the orange and purple-skinned sweet potatoes work well, with the orange producing a slightly sweeter chip.
- They are truly delicious and more-ish, and if you use just one potato, by the time the cooking dishes are done you can wash the serving dish (or lets be honest, the intended serving dish) too!
1 sweet potato
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Mandolin (or sharp knife)
- Wash and scrub the sweet potato with a vegetable brush.
- Cut the tips off, as well as any brown spots or blemishes.
- Slice the sweet potato into thin even slices (mandolin or knife).
- In a bowl, toss the sliced potato in 1 teaspoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. (Like the original recipe, I use my hands.)
- Cut a sheet of baking paper to fit your microwave turntable, and place it on the turntable, trimming any overlapping edges.
- Place a single layer of sweet potato slices on the baking paper.
- Return the turntable with potato slices to the microwave and cook on High (100%) for about 8 minutes (if still too soft, continue cooking in 20 – 30 second bursts, checking all the time that they are not starting to burn.)
- Remove from the microwave and place on a plate to cool and crisp further.
- Repeat until all slices are done.
- Wash the plate, as all the slices are likely to be eaten by this point.
PS. I kept 4 slices in an airtight container, just to see how they will keep (not sure why, really, I don’t foresee a time when there will be any left to keep). I’ll update in a few days with the outcome.
PPS. I’m pretty sure I’m going to try this with beetroot and butternut soon – such a fun way to get the vegetables in!