Consider the chip. A perfect morsel if ever there was one for appetizers or snacking. It fits in your mouth in a single bite. Chips are delicious because they're crisp and salty and they're fun to eat because they make noise when you take a bite. The chip is the ultimate culinary blank canvass, awaiting a salsa or dip to bring it alive with color.
Well, that's the good news about chips. The bad news is that most chips achieve these virtues by dint of being fried in oceans of artery-clogging fat. Take the totopo, that staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, the tortilla chip. Tradition calls for it to be deep-fried in lard! Even if you fry it in a monounsaturated oil, like canola or olive oil, you still ingest a lot of fat.
Several years ago, working on my High-Flavor, Low-Fat Cookbook series, I developed a cooking technique I call bake-frying. I lightly sprayed the chips with oil and baked them on a non-stick baking sheet in the oven. The result was the same crackling crisp chip with a tiny fraction of the fat.
Here are the keys to perfect chips without hips:
Bake-frying can be used to cook any type of chipsnot just tortilla chips. Below, for example, you'll find a recipe for bake-fried potato chips.
For extra flavor, I like to spray the chips lightly with spray oil before baking. The resulting fat grams are negligible. However, if you're on a strict no fat diet, you can omit spraying and your chips will still be quite tasty.
Another way to boost the flavor is to sprinkle chips with spices, such as ground cumin or coriander, or dried herbs, such as oregano or basil.
For a colorful presentation, use both yellow and blue corn tortillasthe latter a specialty of the American Southwest. Blue corn tortillas are available at most supermarkets; if you can't find them, use all yellow tortillas.
Wedges of pita bread make great chips. Lightly brush or spray them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried herbs or cumin.
For an extra rich chip that's still quite low in fat (for example, the cinnamon sugar flour tortilla chips), lightly brush the chips with melted butter. One tablespoon will coat enough chips for 4 people without unduly tipping the scales in fat grams.
Try Steven Raichlen's Recipes:
Tortilla Chips Without Hips
Potato Chips Without Hips
Cinnamon Chips with "Fruit Salsa"
About Steven Raichlen
Steven Raichlen is the award-winning author of the best-selling Barbecue Bible; Barbecue Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades; and How to Grill. His latest book is Beer Can Chicken. You can reach him at his web site: www.barbecuebible.com.