Friday, November 13, 2009

Homemade Potato, I mean Turnip Chips

A couple of days ago, I picked up my son from school, and immediately upon climbing in (amid my usual, "Come on, there's a long line!") he excitedly hands me a note. Like most things he brings home from first grade, it's rolled or folded into the smallest package possible. Maybe he thinks that makes it easier to carry. I unfolded his note and read the precise school teacher handwriting which said, "Recipe for turnip chips?"


I had never actually made turnip chips before. It was time to ask the boy. It went something like this:

Me: Am I supposed to find a recipe for your class? Are you studying turnips?

Boy: My teacher wants the recipe you make. I told her about it.

Me: But I've never made turnip chips.

Boy: You know, the ones you make where some are really crispy and some are really soft, and they're really delicious. Those turnip chips.

(I must interject here. What mother doesn't glow when her son waxes poetic about a vegetable?)

Me: Oh -- you mean the potato chips I make?

Boy: Those are potatoes?

This went on a while, and we ended up deciding to roast some turnip chips. The original potato recipe isn't something I would have blogged about. It's not really even a recipe; I just slice potatoes and roast them. But here goes -- this is for the boy:

I peeled three turnips, and sliced them into rounds. I do this by hand for two reasons: I like the rustic look of irregular slices, and the way they cook up (that's what the boy meant when he said some were crispy and some were soft); and just looking at my mandoline makes my fingers instinctively curl up in self-preservation mode.
I toss them in a large bowl with 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper, and dried thyme. Any combination of dried herbs will work here. (Rubbed sage might be great this time of year, Herbes de Provence would be nice earlier in the season...go wild.) Use a large enough bowl to really throw them around. It's not a bad idea to reach in there with your hands and make sure all the slices are seasoned on both sides.

I spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, and arrange the slices as evenly as possible. They will overlap a bit; just let them.
Roast them at 375 degrees. After about 15 minutes, rotate the baking sheet. After another 15 minutes, turn the "chips" over with a spatula, then roast 10 or 15 minutes more. They will shrink up quite a bit.

These chips don't quite make it to crispy. They are so absolutely delicious, however, that it doesn't matter. The slow-roasting brings out incredible sweetness and the caramelized edges develop a lovely chewiness. Now that I know how they behave with this treatment, I can't wait to fan them out over a serving platter and top them with grilled fish. Or roasted chicken. Or whatever.