baked fried crunchy chips
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I am not an expert on chips, the only method of preparing potatoes that I’m not terribly keen on. Love mash, roasties and jackets; new, fondant, salads; rösti and hash browns, potatoes in bread, in pies and with pasta; but chips – not so much.
Precisely that makes me better placed to judge the quality of a chip. Since I only ever eat a few at a time and mostly nicked from other people’s plates, I can well say when the chips merit another stealthy grab towards co-diners’ food or not. There is a discourse related to chips that come with fish, about cooking in oil vs. beef dripping – a clear North-South divide – but whatever you think about fish, chips should definitely be dunked in oil. They may well have nice flavour when fried in drippings but they lose the crunch – and that’s the key requirement for a chip.
The other prerogative is the fluffy inside. That’s why we have embraced the triple cooked so eagerly: boiling fluffs up the spuds, first dip in oil seals the outside and the second finishes it off.
But there is the whole science to it: the right potato variety, the precise temperature of the oil – okay, fat – and the timing of the first and second dunk. One or more of those factors failing, the chips go soggy when they stand around for a while. Now for some it might not be off-putting: there is the weird tendency in some regions to drown the crunch in gravy, curry sauce or melted cheese, not to mention vinegar. I’m all for my food flooded on the plate but I take exception to chips: it’s like baking a super fluffy sponge and then sitting on it before you layer the cream.
My version below is (of course, annoyingly, not mine: wish I’d invent SOMETHING once) fool proof; it’s stand proof and might even be gravy proof. I was first served these – that is, pinched a few off The Weather Man’s plate – in Tenby, Wales, in the fantastic Salt Cellar. Triple cooked, yeah, but the first cooking is baking. That means less hassle with pans and draining, and it means super-crunch which keeps. I’ve served them once after a half an hour wait in the warm oven and they were still wonderful.
baked fried crunchy chipsServings: 4-6Time: about an hour
- 2kg (4 pounds) potatoes suitable for chips (Yukon, Desiree, King Edward)
- 1 - 1½ litre (a quart) groundnut oil
Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunky chips. Soak in cold water for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Line a large baking tray or two with parchment – to fit all the chips in a single layer.
Drain the chips and pat dry with paper towels before arranging them on the baking trays. Bake for 25 minutes – they will be very slightly coloured in places.
Heat the oil in a chip pan or a deep fryer to 130C/266F for the first dip. Fry the chips for about 10 minutes, in batches if necessary, until the take on dry appearance and are a little coloured, but still look pretty unappetising. Remove them from the oil – at this point they can wait as long as needed, or even kept in the fridge for a couple of days.
For the final dip heat up the oil again to 190C/374F. Fry the chips, in batches if necessary, for about 4 – 5 minutes until deep golden. Drain on paper towels – if you need a few minutes before serving them, they will keep the crunch very well in a bowl in a warm oven.
Sprinkle with salt and serve.