I have an awful weakness when it comes to a certain snack.
I just can't say no to them.
Typically, I'm pretty disciplined when it comes to steering myself away from unhealthy food. I never, ever get any sort of candy bar from the vending machine at work. If there's leftover cake in the kitchen area - no matter how delectable it looks - I won't be tempted by it. I can easily stay away from chocolate, and in general, most sweets.
But there's something about chips that I just can't resist. It's the fact that it's almost healthy. After all, it comes from a vegetable, right? You could argue it's not as processed as any of those cakes and cookies.
And for some reason, in the late afternoon when I'm starting to get just a little hungry (or "peckish" as my British colleagues would say), I always want chips.
I want something savory, something that feels like it could actually stave off those hunger pangs for just a few more hours. Plus, I just love chips for that satisfying crunch.
A few years ago, I was thrilled to discover you could make chips out of almost anything (a sneaky way to pack in those nutrients!). One of my favorites (and something I still make on a regular basis), is oven baked kale chips. I also tried baking all sorts of other chips in the oven, like taro chips, sweet potato chips, and even sunchoke chips.
Last week, I got my first shipment of these beautiful beets from my CSA with Siena Farms. As I was pondering how to use up the beets before the weekend (since I was leaving on a short trip), it dawned on me to try making chips out of these as well.
Oh my goodness, they were fantastic.
Even Bryan approved, and couldn't stop eating them at dinner. In fact we ended up polishing off the entire batch of chips (uhh, I guess that means we ate 10 beets between us (!)).
Making beet chips takes a bit of patience if you don't have a dehydrator (which I don't). If the heat in the oven is on too high, the chips will burn. If it's on too low, then it takes forever.
I found my happy medium around 295 °F with the convection fan on, though it still took quite some time.
First, slice beets to about 1/16 of an inch thick. I noticed that if I shaved the beets too thinly, the "chips" would stick to the pan like glue and I ended up destroying them while trying to scrape them off the pan.
Something just a tad thicker works better.
Aren't these chiogga beets just lovely?
I used a mandolin slicer to speed things up. You could hand slice with a knife too. I found that I actually had more control over the width of the slices with a knife. With the mandolin, I had trouble seeing what was going on, so sometimes my slices were uneven.
I tried my best to put slices of similar thicknesses on the same pan so that they would cook at roughly the same amount of time.
Bake chips in the oven for about 20 minutes or so, checking every so often to make sure they are not burning. When the edges start to brown and slightly curl up, rotate the pan and stick back in the oven. If you have the patience (and I had lots of time), you can flip each individual chip over to prevent it from sticking and to bake both sides evenly.
Note how much the beets shrink! In the above photo you can see the outline of how big the beet slice was when it started!
Eventually, possibly up to an hour later, the chips will be done. It's hard for me to tell you exactly how long it will take because a lot of this depends on how thick your slices are, how strong your oven is, how water-logged your beets are, and whether you use convection or not.
The best advice I can give is just to keep an eye on it. You can always use lower heat and just bake for longer if you want to avoid the possibility of burnt chips.
I left my finished chips out overnight. Because it's hot and humid in Boston right now, the chips were a bit limp by the next morning. This was easily fixed by a quick 3-4 minute "reheat" in the toaster oven.
They came out nice and crispy.
Crispy Oven Baked Beet Chips
Raw beets, washed and with greens removed
1. Preheat oven to around 300° F (optionally use convection).
2. Thinly slice beets to 1/16 inch thick, using a mandolin if available.
3. Either toss beets in vegetable oil, or use an oil mister to coat both sides of the beet slice with oil
4. Lay the beet slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.
5. Sprinkle salt on the beets
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges of the beets begin to brown and curl up. Rotate the pan or optionally, flip the chips over.
7. Bake for another 20 minutes. Continue checking and rotating or flipping until the chips are dry and crispy, about 1 hour.
8. Store in an airtight container. If it still gets damp, you can easily "crisp" it back up by putting it in the oven for 3-4 minutes.
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