As I have mentioned before, potato skins can be put to good use in making a flavorful batch of broth. But they are also quite tasty cooked all by themselves. Recently I made a huge batch of sunchoke soup (incidentally if you ever have the better part of an afternoon to kill and feel like you need a good, tedious task to calm your nerves, I’d recommend peeling sunchokes. It is one of those interminable, manual cooking tasks — right up there with skinning chestnuts and cracking almonds. ) In the end I had a wonderful sunchoke soup, and a big pile of peels. So I figured that it was high time for me to figure out the nuances of crisp potato skins (or sunchoke skins, really any root vegetable, but I think that sweet potatoes might be too fibrous to be terribly palatable).
Salted and cooked to a delicate crisp, potato skins are an intoxicating blend of earthy and ethereal. They taste, well, a little bit like dirt — but the most delicious, wholesome, addictive dirt that you can imagine. Think of them as the strange looking, interesting uncle of the potato chip. You can eat them as an appetizer or snack, or sprinkle them on top of any dish that you’d like to add a little crunch to.
While the procedure is simple enough, I spent a surprisingly long time fussing with it to get these to come out just right. A lot of recipes call for a high cooking temperature and just scattering butter over the skins. This procedure gave me a half batch of charcoal crisps and some undercooked, lackluster skins. I found that a quick saute in butter evenly distributes the butter over the skins. Then cooking at a medium temperature for a longer time gets all of the skins crisp, without burning. If you know you want to make a batch of crisps, you can reserve your peels in a bag in the freezer until you have enough. Take a little more care and cut your skins into long, even strips (about 3″), and they will be the perfect size to serve as an appetizer. Smaller, uneven crisps (like my sunchokes) can be used as an accent to another dish.
3/4 c. Potato Skins (or similar)
1 T. Butter
Set your oven to 350 F.
Melt the butter. Toss in your skins. If you are using previously frozen skins, make sure to let any excess water that the peels have released steam off at this point. Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat, stirring. The skins should be evenly coated with butter and steaming.
Let the skins cool for a few minutes. Spread them out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure that you are separating them into one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir the skins, (just to rearrange them on the sheet). Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all of the skins are crisp. You won’t see them brown very much because of the darker color of the skin. You can snap one or two to test for crispness, remembering that they will continue to crisp as they cool.
Store cooled crisps in an airtight container for up to a week (but I don’t think they’ll last that long..)