Saturday, November 10, 2007

Butternut Chips

Since we already know that even sawdust would be delicious fried in oil and served with chunks of sea salt, it should come as no surprise that something as sweet and accommodating as butternut squash makes a sublime chip.

And since squash of all kinds is in season now -- meaning, cheap, local and highly sustainable -- it's great to have one more way to cook it. Tonight, as we were getting ready to have a good old Saturday Night Burger Dinner, I thought -- just burgers and salad? We make small burgers, and everyone is always still hungry afterwards. Meanwhile, this lovely butternut squash had been giving me the eye for over a week, expectantly wondering: Are you making a pie? A soup? What exactly is your plan...? My eyes fell on it as I was scanning the kitchen for potatoes, because I thought chips would be nice.

Any why not butternut chips?

They were delicious. In fact, we fought over them -- not the four-year-old, who explained in great detail that she liked them, but did not love them.

But the rest of us, including the highly selective 8-year-old, joined the fight for scraps.

One tip: As I served an exploratory chip to each kid plate, I announced that I needed to know -- not if they liked it, but -- what it tasted like. "I need some words to describe these. I think they are sweet and salty, but I'm not sure. Tell me what you taste."

"Not so good," said my daughter.

"Like a hot salty lollipop," said my son. "Can I have more?"


1 Butternut Squash
Vegetable oil
Coarse sea salt

Halve, seed and peel squash. Use a mandoline or a vegetable peeler to make thin slices.

Meanwhile, fill a large skillet with oil about one inch deep. Heat until extremely hot. (How hot? When you slip a test piece of squash into the oil, it should begin to bubble.) Fill skillet with one layer of squash. Fry until browning on one side; flip and brown on the other side. Err on the side of over-browning.

Use tongs to remove chips from oil into a large bowl lined with paper towels. Blot oil, then sprinkle chips with coarse sea salt. Serve immediately.

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