This week for my Friday Fun I wanted to get out my mandoline and put it to use – it did a good job with my squash planks but otherwise it hasn’t gotten much love. Partly for the same reason it took me a long time to get around to buying it, even though the model I have works very well and was quite affordable – mandolines (basically a flat surface with an embedded blade that you run a food item back and forth on to create thin, even slices) can be a little scary, what with the fast slicing and large super sharp blade and all. Most, like mine, come with a finger guard which tends to be less than fantastic – but I’ve been making it work. I also invested in some cut resistant gloves – I don’t count on them and still sacrifice the rear end of whatever vegetable I’m slicing, but they add an extra layer of precaution to the process. And once you get comfortable, slicing on the mandoline is actually a lot of fun as well as being fast and easy.
Like I said, mine is a rather inexpensive version – the Benriner “wide” model, which I ordered from Amazon. However, before ordering it I looked at many models (for several years, actually) and chose the one that had the most positive feedback – including from people who said they found it less hazardous than some of the fancier, more expensive models. I am still very careful with it, as I would recommend anyone be with any model – spendy or not they’re all sharp.
The first dish I ever made with the mandolin was a sweet potato bake from Smitten Kitchen, and lately I’ve seen a ton of similar “potato stack” recipes popping up, especially on pinterest. I was looking more for a quick snack, though, and did have a bag of potatoes needing to be used, so I decided to experiment with oven baked “chips.” The wonderful thing about the mandoline, and what makes it almost a little mesmerizing to use, is how quickly and effortlessly your vegetable vanishes into perfect even slices. Remember – let that back end go! Waste a little potato, it’s less valuable than your fingers. You COULD roast up scraps, if you had enough.
For my first attempt, on Friday night, I sliced three potatoes fairly thin and tossed them with kosher salt and vegetable oil. I started out baking them at 425, but soon decided it was too hot to cook them through without just browning them all over. I turned it down to 375, and had slightly better luck, but decided to delay this post for a second attempt.
Today I turned the slicer almost as thin as it would go, used olive oil instead of vegetable, and set the over for 350 – ultimately going down to 325. About 15 minutes at 350 gave me the most crunch ships, but they didn’t burn as much at 325. I can’t say I’ve perfected the method yet – but with the olive oil, they taste quite good even is some are more chewy than crisp, and with the mandolin to slice on, they were very little work.