DOUBLE-CRUNCH HOT CHIPS
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.
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.