- Food & Drink
Having decided to serve crab at our supper club, Naomi and I needed to pick side dishes. We were serving salads as our starter, so we didn’t need to pack in the veg (even when hosting a supper club, I am focussed on making sure people eat their 5-a-day). And, as the crab dish was loosely based on moules marinières, our minds turned to chips. Proper chips. Chip shop chips that are crisp and crunchy, with fluffy potato middles.
Determined not to serve disappointing chips (the shame), I bought a deep fat fryer and began practicing. At Ballymaloe we’d been taught how to double cook chips, first cooking them at a low temperature, then finishing them off in hot fat till they were golden. And I knew about Heston Blumenthal’s triple cooked chips (who doesn’t?) but the pessimistic section of my brain was convinced that if we tried to simmer kilos of potatoes we’d accidentally end up with mash. And frying balls of mash would be a nightmare.
A little bit of googling led me to Stefan Gates’ recipe for double cooked chips. I trust Stefan’s recipes and thought that if we added in a cooling down period in between the first and second fries, we could have perfect chips. A few goes proved that yes: these were great chips. I sent the recipe over to Naomi, who tried it and said it was very good, but she thought boiling the chips first did make for crispier chips.
If Naomi and Heston both think that boiling chips is the way to go, then I need to stop being stubborn and try it. So I did and oh my god, they were good chips. Really good. I regret the many years I have spent eating oven chips. They are nothing compared to these chips.
On the night, to avoid accidentally mashing our potatoes, we simmered them in batches; plunging handfuls of potatoes into a pan of hot, salty water, simmering for a few minutes and then scooping them out with the slotted spoon I’d brought with me, knowing it would come in useful somehow. We fried the chips in Waitrose essential vegetable oil, which is rapeseed oil, and produced perfectly browned, crisp and fluffy chips. At home I used groundnut oil, which I think is even better but it is so expensive you have to be really committed to frying things to make it worthwhile.
On the night Naomi was bent over three deep fat fryers, timing different batches of chips and tossing them with large pinches of sea salt, while I stood on a chair hauling crab out of the giant pan of cream and cider sauce. “These are the best chips I have ever made!” She declared, as she piled another round into a copper bowl. She wasn’t wrong.
Chip Shop Chips
400g maris piper potatoes
3 ltrs groundnut or rapeseed oil
Sea salt, vinegar, ketchup and mayo, to serve
Peel the potatoes and slice them into finger length chips. Put them in a bowl of water as you go.
Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Once the water is boiling, drain the chips and rinse them under cold water. Add the chips to the pan. Bring the pan back to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Drain the chips and spread them out on a board or tray lined with kitchen paper. Leave them dry and cool completely.
Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 130°C/270°F. Put the chips into a fryer basket and sink them into the fat. Fry for around 8 minutes till the chips look like they are forming a skin. Lift them out, drain and then spread out on a board or tray again. Let them cool completely.
When you’re ready to serve the chips, heat the oil to 180°C/Fan 360°F. Put the chips back into the fryer basket and fry for around 5 minutes till they are golden brown. Drain, tip them into a large bowl and toss with salt and vinegar (lots of both). Serve straight away with ketchup and mayo.