Loaded potato crisps: the best bar food is homemade
Jessica Webster | AnnArbor.com
“Potato skins. I haven’t had those in a while. How do you mess up potato skins? I’ll try that.”
And then you find out how you mess up potato skins. Half of each piece is mushy; the other half is dried out. The whole thing has very little flavor. Well, except for salt. It tastes like a greasy, salty, mushy, dried out mess.
And who wants that?
I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make my own at home, but when I saw Deb Perelman’s recipe for Loaded Potato Crisps in the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook I knew I had to try them.
It’s brilliant. They’re not technically potato skins. No, they’re far cooler than that. First, you actually use the entire potato. More importantly, slicing a raw potato into discs is far easier than scooping potato flesh out of a steaming hot spud. Right?
But the most important thing is that you are completely in control of the flavor. Choose a nice sharp cheddar or another flavorful cheese that melts well. Use your favorite seasonings to enhance the taste. I sprinkled just a little smoked paprika on the crisps when I put them back in the oven to broil the cheese, and the smokey flavor was a nice enhancement.
This recipe makes about 45 baked potato crisps which is a lot. But since most of the ingredient list is just toppings, it’s pretty simple to reduce it to whatever your needs are. I just used one potato and reduced everything else by a third.
If you’re making these for a party, you can bake the potato slices, cook and crumble the bacon, shred the cheese, and mince the chives in advance. Then all you have to do is broil the cheese and top the chips right before the guests arrive.
If you don’t eat bacon, try replacing it with slivers of shallots, fried in a small saucepan with about 1/2-inch of hot oil, drained well and immediately salted. The salty crunch you get will nearly equal that of bacon crumbles.
We live in a town where you can buy delicious Zingerman’s pimento cheese every day of the week, and I have a hard time resisting it. It turns out it’s not just good on top of burgers, served with celery or mixed into scrambled eggs. It also makes a pretty delicious topping for this recipe. I used about a teaspoon per potato round.
Baked Potato Crisps with the Works adapted slightly from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 russet (baking) potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled and cut into 1/3-inch slices (I would choose organic potatoes for any recipe that calls for leaving the peel on.)
- freshly ground black pepper
- smoked paprika to taste (optional)
- 1/2 cup (approximately 2 ounces) grated cheddar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4-5 slices crispy bacon, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil and grease each sheet with butter. Arrange the potato slices on the sheets and brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes until the bottom starts to brown. Flip them over and roast for 10 more minutes.
If you’re not serving these immediately, this is when you let them cool and then pack them off to the fridge — in some Tupperware or covered with plastic wrap — until it’s time for their moment in the sun. When you’re ready to serve them, bring them up to room temperature and proceed with the steps below.
Sprinkle each slice with about a teaspoon or so of cheese and a shake of smoked paprika (or just some pimento cheese) and bake for 5 more minutes.
Top each potato slice with a small dollop of sour cream, bacon crumbles and chives. Serve immediately.
Then the trick is to keep from eating them all yourself. I warn you now: this will be a challenge.