DOU­BLE-CRUNCH HOT CHIPS

QT Magazine - - FOOD - BY JANE LAW­SON, AUTHOR OF MILKBAR MEM­O­RIES

I’M of the view that a good chip has a sub­stan­tial yet frag­ile golden, crunchy exterior, and an al­most in­signif­i­cant amount of fluffy potato in­side. It is the crunch fac­tor that makes them so more-ish. Chips should re­tain a faint hint of oil, which seem­ingly dis­ap­pears as soon as you’ve no­ticed its lus­cious mois­ture; not greasy or soggy, just el­e­gantly lu­bri­cat­ing the shat­ter. I want a chip in which the crunch holds up when you’re half­way through the bowl. Ob­sessed? Per­haps. This chip is loosely based on He­ston Blu­men­thal’s re­search. Yeah, I know ev­ery­one copies his triple-cooked chips recipe, but with good rea­son. The science of cook­ing and chilling and re­cook­ing at var­i­ous tem­per­a­tures changes the struc­ture of the potato cells in a way that most of us with­out a science de­gree will never un­der­stand, so just trust me, this recipe is worth the ef­fort.

SERVES 4

4 large floury (roast­ing or chip­ping) pota­toes, such as rus­set, king ed­ward or col­iban; they should weigh about 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) all up

2 ta­ble­spoons sea salt peanut or veg­etable oil, for deep-fry­ing; you can also use half oil and half lard or duck fat

fine sea salt, roast chicken salt or lemon, rose­mary & gar­lic salt for sprin­kling malt vine­gar, to serve (op­tional) Pre­heat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Peel the pota­toes, then rinse. Us­ing a large sharp knife, cut into thick, square chips, about 1.5 cm wide, and as long as the length of each potato. You can trim off the rounded ends of the pota­toes for a more uni­form look.

Spread the chips out evenly in a large roast­ing tin. Stir the sea salt into 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) boil­ing water un­til dis­solved, then pour over the pota­toes. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 min­utes, or un­til very ten­der, but not break­ing apart.

Us­ing a slot­ted fish lifter or spat­ula, care­fully trans­fer the chips-to-be in a sin­gle layer on to your work sur­face, or sev­eral bak­ing trays that have been lined with clean, dry tea tow­els. Loosely drape some tea tow­els across the top to help the pota­toes steam as you leave them to cool to room tem­per­a­ture. Re­frig­er­ate for 2 hours, or un­til com­pletely cold.

One-third fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan with oil and heat to 140°C (275°F), or un­til a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown in 45–50 sec­onds. Cook the chips in batches for 6–8 min­utes, or un­til pale gold in colour.

Drain on pa­per towel, cool to room tem­per­a­ture, then re­frig­er­ate again for at least a cou­ple of hours, or overnight — the chips must be com­pletely cold. Al­low your oil to cool in the pan, then cover if not us­ing un­til the next day.

When ready to give the chips their fi­nal fry­ing, heat the oil to 205°C (400°F), or un­til a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown in 5 sec­onds.

In batches, add the chips. The tem­per­a­ture will drop to about 180°C (350°F), so try to keep it con­sis­tently at this heat. Cook each batch for 4–5 min­utes, or un­til deep gold and crunchy crisp. Drain on pa­per towel and sprin­kle with your choice of salt. Serve with malt vine­gar for tra­di­tion­al­ists.

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