Friday, November 16, 2012

Baked Potato Chips with Warm, Savory Claim Spread/Dip

To download cookbook style copies of the recipes below:
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Baked Potato Chips
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Warm, Savory Clam Spread/Dip

Snacks matter.

It’s true. Whether you’re having a casual get-together, serving hors d’oeuvres before a more formal meal, or gathering with friends to cheer for your favorite sports teams on television, good finger food practically guarantees a successful event.

Chips and dip, of course, is a classic combination at such times. The bad news about that is that, in this case at least, classic is a euphemism for overused and boring. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Friends, this is the week we liberate your guests from using the mass-produced contents of a greasy foil bag to carry onion soup mix flavored sour cream.

This dip is a delicious, easy to make savory clam spread served fresh and warm. As spreads go, this is the real deal; there’s no sour cream or cream cheese used. It’s all about the clams and the seasonings.

And when you make your own fresh clam dip, you’re not going to want it put on those corporately-produced, preservative-laden fried things that have been sitting in bags in the snack aisle for who knows how long, are you? Of course not! You deserve better than that, and so do your friends. We’ll be making our own fresh potato chips, baked not fried, and seasoned the way you want them seasoned. It’s a chip worthy of the dip.

This is good stuff, folks. And with every chip-serving occasion from Thanksgiving football to Christmas parties to New Year’s Eve and the Superbowl coming down the road before you know it, this is something you’ll be glad to know about.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin.
  • The chip recipe calls for russet potatoes. This is because russets have less moisture than most other kinds of potato, making them ideal for making crisp.
  • You’ll note that the spread recipe calls for canned clams. Although I generally try to avoid using canned foods, there are certain exceptions, including clams. In his great recipe for Oregon Clam Chowder, James Beard wrote that canned clams are ok to use, and that’s all the convincing I need.
  • To bake properly, the potatoes need to be sliced very thin and as evenly as possible. This is best done with a mandolin.
  • If you do have any leftover clam spread, you’ll find it makes a fabulous sandwich. I put some of mine on a hot dog bun to make a kind of improvised clam roll that was out of this world.

This recipe makes four generous servings of chips, and about 1-1/2 cups of dip.
Since the chips need to cool before serving, we’ll make those first.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse two large russet potatoes.

Slice the potatoes thin, 1/8” or less. (It’s best to slice and bake one potato at a time. Each potato will be spread onto two baking sheets, so it’s not likely that both potatoes, after being sliced, will fit in the oven at the same time.)

Dry the potato slices using paper towels.

Arrange the slices on baking sheets lined with parchment or silicon baking sheets. Lightly apply cooking spray, and season with 1-2 tsp salt and (optional) 2 tsp of dried herbs.

Bake until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. (Begin checking the chips after about 10 minutes and remove any that appear to be done before putting the baking sheet back in the oven.)

Transfer the chips to a rack and let cool before serving to make the chips crisper. As you’re transferring the chips to rack, you’ll be able to feel which have gotten crisp. Put any that are still soft and need more baking time back on the baking sheet and bake for a few more minutes.

While the chips are cooling, let’s make our dip.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine two 6-1/2 ounce cans of minced clams (including liquid) and 2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice in a saucepan.

After bringing to a boil, lower to a simmer for five minutes.

Add the 6 Tbsp butter substitute; ½ cup minced onion; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; ½ Tbsp hot sauce; and 1 dash Worcestershire, and simmer another five minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add 1-1/2 tsp dried oregano; ½ tsp dried basil;
2 tsp dried parsley; ¼ tsp sugar; ¼ tsp salt, and a pinch of fresh ground black pepper, and mix till combined. Stir in 1 to 1-1/4 cups of plain bread crumbs (fresh crumbs are best) and until the mixture has the consistency of oatmeal.

Place the mixture in a small (about 2 cups) baking dish, and garnish with 2 Tbsp grated parmesan and paprika.

Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with the chips, or with crackers, cheeses slices, etc.

To download cookbook style copies of the recipes below:
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Baked Potato Chips
  • Click HERE for the recipe for Warm, Savory Clam Spread/Dip

Be warned: these can be habit forming!

Hope you enjoy this fresh, unique light snack. And that you’ll visit here again next week for another delicious recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

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