When I was in primary school the number one chip flavour was Light & Tangy. Everyone was mad for it. We’d crumple the packet and eat tiny, severely seasoned chip flakes by the handful, usually chasing it all with a swig of a Torquay soft drink. It was awesome. And, on reflection, awful.
Come high school I went for a more classic chip, favouring plain or lightly salted, which I’d invariably stuff into a plain, soft, buttered roll. Try it and thank me later. If not eating chip rolls, my friends and I would engage in a truly odd activity, for which I have no explanation other than we were teenagers and liked to live on the edge (?? perhaps??)…we’d buy salt and vinegar popcorn from the Tuck Shop, shake the bag, bring it to our mouths and inhale sharply. Vinegar pains, straight to the lungs. Why? Who knows. For kicks. Kind of like that classic sleepover dare of eating a spoonful of cinnamon (which I do NOT encourage you to try)… but slightly more odd because what was the point? To laugh and cry and laugh and eat popcorn, I suppose. These days I still favour plain or lightly salted chips, passing on the vinegar inhalation and eating them like a regular person.
When making potatoes in my kitchen, something I do often, I’ll occasionally venture away from steaming (for my Sicilian potato salad) or the classic roasted spud, and reach for a bottle of vinegar (which I swear is solely for wholesome seasoning or stain removing purposes) and make my own salt and vinegar “chips”. They’re outrageously scrumptious and severely satisfying, and I think you’re going to love them. I first came across this method of sincerely infusing potatoes with vinegar (by boiling them in the good stuff) on Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks. And I have spoken of these potatoes before, and made them on numerous occasions. But I only recently perfected the method and I’m super excited to share it with you today.
I like to serve these potatoes with grilled, steamed or baked fish and some sort of vegetable. Buttery, garlicky spinach, roasted cabbage or a fresh salad is lovely. And if you have a good aioli, caper tartare sauce or pesto on hand to smother over the fish, well, you’re laughing.
Next up, Light and Tangy Potatoes?
Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
Adapted from Heidi Swanson on 101 Cookbooks
Serves 3-4 as a side dish.
3 large Dutch Cream Potatoes*
Enough White Vinegar to cover the sliced potatoes (~3 cups)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
1. Scrub your potatoes with a vegetable brush to remove any dirt. Peel them if you wish, though I don’t peel my potatoes.
2. Slice the potatoes into 0.75cm – 1cm thick coins, trying as hard as you can to get even slices (thin parts will burn and make your job that much more difficult). You can use a mandolin or efficient slicer, but I find most cut the potatoes too thin and you’ll end up with burnt wafers.
3. Place the potato coins in a saucepan and cover with vinegar. Sometimes if I’m low on vinegar I’ll use 2/3 vinegar, 1/3 water, which, though clearly doesn’t provide as intense a vinegar bath as pure vinegar, still works well. Bring to the boil and cook for ~5 minutes until a skewer inserted into a potato just goes in easily. You don’t want well-cooked potatoes, you just need to take the raw edge off them. You’re after al dente potatoes. When skewer friendly, turn the heat off, cover the potatoes with a lid and let them sit in the vinegar bath for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray (or two) with baking paper.
4. After 30 minutes, drain the potatoes then add them back to the saucepan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Place the potatoes on the baking tray in an even layer, not overlapping (which is why you might need two trays). Season generously with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, plus another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if it looks like it needs it. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, then remove the pan(s) and, using tongs, turn each potato coin so that each side gets golden (crispness takes dedication, friends). Place back into the oven and cook for a further 10-20 minutes, depending on your thickness, oven heat, potato variety etc. Keep an eye on the potatoes in the oven, especially in the last 10 minutes and remove any potatoes that are done (to avoid burning!). Remove from the oven when all potatoes are cooked and serve.
* I’ve tried this recipe with many different varieties of potatoes. And while it works well with most, I am suggesting dutch cream as they are my favourite for both flavour and texture, the creaminess providing a lovely contrast to the sharp vinegar flavour.