You would have thought making chips was as easy as boiling an egg,
after all drunk Scots have been burning their houses down from time immemorial by setting fire to their chip pans after getting home from the pub.
Heston Blumenthal obviously didn't think so, and has now introduced to a bemused world the complexity of his famed triple-cooked chips
This basically involves adding an extra cooking stage in which the chips are par-boiled in water until they are almost falling apart,
followed by a thorough drying and then the more usual two-stage frying process.
One thing not always thoroughly discussed are the best varieties of potato to use for chips - and the best fats in which to fry them.
Heston uses specially-grown Golden Wonder but recommends Charlotte or Belle de Fontenay
(and occasionally enthuses about Arran Victory)
for home use
and always to choose 'drier' potatoes for best results.
Heston uses groundnut oil for purity and lack of odour, but also suggests trying rendered beef fat, goose or duck fat for their flavour.
Indeed McDonalds' famed french fry flavour is supposed to have come more from their use of beef tallow,
as from their choice of Russet Burbank potatoes.
Good 'ol Delia recommends 'mealy-textured' potato varieties such as King Edwared, Desirée, Majestic or Maris Piper
cooked in lard or groundnut oil.
To save you looking, I have already scoured the interwebs for chip advice and it seems older potatoes will make a better chip,
go for floury varieties such as King Edwards, Maris Piper, Desirée, then Pentland Dell, Rooster, Sante
and finally for no-name versions choose larger 'baking' potatoes.
A couple of personal notes:
need a chip basket so you can hoik the chips out as soon as they are done.
If you try to scoop them out with a slotted spoon it will take too long and you'll end up with a load of half-burnt chips.
It's up to you whether you fancy leaving the peel on your chips - I quite like that, but most of these professional chefs seem to be peeling their spuds.
As to thickness, you can cut normal chips that are anything from ½"-1" thick,
or go for real french fries that are only ¼" thick.
I found the thinner fries to be more difficult to cook to a good crisp -
it seems that the increased surface area really cools the oil down and required two, three or even four re-fries from 200°C to really brown them.
And in the end they're just not that great flavour-wise being all outside, and very little soft fluffy inner.
You can also use a simplified version of Heston's triple-cooked method (skipping the soaking and cooling) to produce magnificent
deep-fried potato wedges
On the science of chip cooking:
I actually had good success adding bicarbonate of soda to my fat chips' pre-cooking water to break up their surfaces and provide plenty of crunch,
though you have to watch them like a hawk to avoid overcooking or they prematurely fall apart.
Alternatively J.Kenzi López-Alt
recommends par-boiling McDonalds-style fries in (heavily salted) vinegared water
them breaking up, yielding fries with tiny, bubbly, blistered surfaces that stay crisp even when cool
I guess you pays your money and makes your choice!
staple side veg vegan
- 1.2kg/2lb 8oz potatoes, such as Charlotte or Belle de Fontenay
- 2-3 litres groundnut oil
Wash and peel the potatoes.
With a sharp knife, square the potatoes into rectangles and then cut them into chips about 1.5cm/½" thick.
The length of the chips is not so important, but try to keep them the same thickness so that they will cook at the same rate.
As soon as the chips are cut, put them into a bowl under cold running water for 10 minutes or so to rinse off some of the starch, then drain them.
Next, bring a casserole of unsalted water to the boil and plunge in the drained potatoes.
Bring back to the boil and then simmer until the point of a knife will penetrate the chips easily
and the chips have almost broken up (it's the fissures that form as the potato breaks up that trap the fat, creating a crunchy crust).
It is important to make sure the simmer is gentle, so that the potatoes don't start to fall apart before they have cooked through.
Very carefully lift the potatoes out of the water, using a slotted spoon, and place them on a tray. Allow them to steam until they are cool, then place them in the fridge.
(The dry air of the fridge makes a good environment in which to remove excess moisture from the chips via evaporation.)
The chips will harden when cold.
Pour enough groundnut oil to cover the chips into a deep-fat fryer and heat it to 130C/250F.
Plunge in the chips and allow them to cook until they take on a dry appearance and are slightly coloured (but do not let them brown at all).
When this happens, they have finished their second cooking process; drain them, let them cool to room temperature, and put them into the fridge.
When cold, they are ready for their final cooking.
Reheat the groundnut oil to 180C/350F . Plunge in the chips and cook until golden brown. This may take 8-10 minutes
- you need to be patient in order to obtain a really crisp chip.
Drain and season with salt only; they will take quite a lot of it.
1 jar of onions pickled in malt or white-wine vinegar (whichever is the more evocative)
Decant the pickling juice from the jar of pickled onions into the atomiser and squirt it around the room or on the fish and chips.
Anthony Bourdain's Chips
staple side veg vegan
- 4 Idaho (e.g. Russet Burbank) potatoes, big, long ones
- 2 quarts/2.25 litres or more peanut oil to fill fryer (or pot)
- table salt
- 2 large bowls
- deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot
- skimmer or wire basket (if using a pot)
- baking sheet
Step One: Prep
Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½-inch/1-cm-thick sticks.
Put them immediately into the bowl of ice water to keep them from oxidizing.
Leave them in the water anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight, then rinse well in cold water to take out much of the starch.
Step Two: Blanch
In a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil to 140°C/280°F.
Cook the potatoes in batches, about 6 to 8 minutes for each batch,
until they are soft and their color has paled from opaque white to a semi-translucent white.
Do not not impatient and yank them out early.
remove them from the oil with the skimmer or wire basket and spread evenly on the baking sheet.
Let them rest at least 15 minutes.
Step Three: Fry
Bring the oil up to 190°C/375°F.
No hotter, no cooler.
Fry the blanched potatoes in batches for 2 to 3 minutes each, or until they are crispy and golden brown.
Remove from the oil with the skimmer or wire basket, shake off the excess oil, and...
Step Four: Serve
...immediately drop the fries into the other large bowl, which has been lined with a clean, dry towel.
Add salt to taste and whip out the towel.
Toss the fries around the bowl and serve while still hot.