Spiced garden crisps

Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Photo by Gregor Richardson.
These wonderfully vibrant and wickedly spiced crisps are a great pre-dinner snack. Ideal for feeding the crowds celebrating the Rugby World Cup.

Makes enough for 4-8
2 beetroots, washed
2 parsnips, peeled
2-4 agria potatoes, washed
2-4 carrots, peeled

First, prepare your spiced salts. These of course are optional, as are the spices used. I like adding a little twist to my garden crisps but sea salt flakes work beautifully as well.

To make spiced salts
Caraway salt:
Heat 1 Tbsp caraway seeds in a dry frypan and toast gently until you smell their wonderful aroma and see the seeds turn slightly darker in colour. Remove from the heat and place in your mortar. Let cool and add 2 Tbsp salt (I like to use sea salt flakes) and pound until you have a medium-fine powder which has turned brown. Set aside.

Chilli salt: tsp chilli flakes or chilli powder (smoked paprika is also fantastic). Add these to a mortar with 2 Tbsp salt and pound once again until you get a reddish salt. Set aside.

Herb salt: 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or sage leaves pounded with 2 Tbsp salt until you get a wonderful green powder (this is also great added to roast chicken or sprinkled over potatoes for roasting).

Now you need to prepare your vegetables. You want to have these cut or peeled, paper thin so they will cook crispy and they will stay fresh. I find using a potato peeler works really well. A mandoline will do the trick also.

Peel the potatoes and parsnip directly into a bowl of cold water to prevent them going brown. Peel the carrots and beetroot, but do keep separate as the colours will bleed.

Now half-fill a large deep-sided pot with vegetable oil. Heat to 190degC.

To check when the temperature is right, place a few slices of your vegetables carefully into the oil. If they bubble instantly and they are crisp in about 2 minutes, then it is ready. If not, continue to heat until ready.

Cook your vegetables separately as they will take different times to cook. It is very important not to overcrowd the pot. You are best off doing smaller batches with better results.

When you cook your vegetables, please take extra care as hot oil is dangerous. Make sure you drain your potatoes and parsnips well and pat dry. I also move the vegetables around in the pot with a metal spoon or tongs to keep them separated.

When they are golden brown and crispy, remove from the oil, drain well and cool on kitchen paper. Sprinkle immediately with your spiced salt - beetroot with caraway, potatoes with herb salt etc.

Serve in bowls and enjoy their wonderful fresh and interesting flavours.

Alison Lambert, chef at the Otago Farmers Market, will demonstrate this recipe at the market on Saturday morning.


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