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Homemade Tortilla Chips and a Smoky Kitchen

May 24, 2007

Chippity Chips

Last night was a little bit of a stove top disaster zone. I have been perpetually jet lagged since returning from San Francisco, and hence my thinking hasn’t been so clear. At the market after work I bought salsa, but no chips, and didn’t exactly plan out a dinner very well. And in my fuzzy headedness I thought it would be a great idea to make my own tortilla chips. We had a bag of corn tortillas in the refrigerator that no one was going to use, and I’ve never really done it before, so hey! Why not pick a time when I can barely think? Hoorah!

I created the most smokiest kitchen I’ve ever been in in my life.

Smoky Kitchen

This is not just bad lighting. That haziness is all smoke which just poured endlessly from the pot of hot oil I was attempting to cook tortillas in. And was it worth it? Not really.

My experience of frying, as I say, is limited. And I don’t have a cooking thermometer with which to measure the temperature of the hot oil, to ensure it’s always at the optimum frying up temperature. Needless to say, it was not always at the frying up temperature, and those tortillas cooked up and  burned mighty fast after awhile. And produced copious amounts of thick smoke that refused to dissipate.

Now, everything I’ve read about making tortilla chips says, “Heat the oil, put the cut up tortillas into it, take them out when they’re browning and bubbling.” I did just that. They weren’t that great. Don’t get me wrong, they were totally edible. But they weren’t very crispy, except the ones that were slightly burned. They cooked much too fast. They, um, smoked up my kitchen.

The only thing I can think to do next time to create an even better snack sensation is to pay attention to the temperature of the oil. Does it matter what quality the tortillas are? Probably, but they pretty much all seem the same to me.

Oh, and probably having an exhaust vent installed would help a lot. How many times can I harp on this: Why do no houses in Boston have freaking vents over their stoves? I would not have to stand at the doorway frantically swinging it open and shut like a freak if we just had vents over our stoves.

Aside from my smoking problem, I tried to make a shrimp quesadilla for dinner and it ended up sticking to the skillet something crazy and turning into a soggy over-cheesed mess. Sigh. Hopefully tonight will be a better night in the kitchen. With less carcinogens.

Browned Chip Closeup

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. X permalink
    May 24, 2007 11:42 am

    Holy crap! I thought I was the smoke-up the kitchen one. Sorry baby!

  2. May 24, 2007 4:57 pm

    I’m sure the heat was part of the smoke problem. Could have also been the oil. Oils like canola or grapeseed have a high smoke point than, say, olive oil. My wife occasionally makes what we’ve dubbed poison gas potatoes. They’re delicious and spicy potatoes, boiled first, then sautéed. At the end, she adds Sriracha hot chili sauce to the skillet, and a peppery cloud drives everyone from the kitchen. But the end results are totally worth it.

  3. Crimson permalink
    May 25, 2007 10:20 am

    I fry my own tortilla chips frequently. I have never used a thermometer, and usually have great results. You are not going to get the same level of crispiness that you get out of a bag, so don’t kill yourself. I use a good amount of canola oil over a medium/low flame (do not use the HIGH level or you will burn the crap out of everything, which probably created all the smoke). Only put in a couple of pieces at a time, and as soon as they start to bubble pull them out and set them on a paper towel or something that can soak up all the excess oil (unless you like eating oil). When you remove the chips from the pan they will still be fairly soft, but don’t worry, they harden up as they dry. If you let them get crispy in the pan, they will become burnt triangles instead of delicious snack. Remember: Lots of oil, low heat, wait till they bubble, and let dry to harden! Mmmmmm, chips.

  4. May 27, 2007 1:09 pm

    I figure if I want them as crispy as store-bought, I’ll have to make the tortillas from scratch, as well, and roll them out as thin as humanly possible. I’m not sure even I have the stamina for that.

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