After several months of experimentation in the blogjam kitchen, it is with great pride that I’m able to announce the creation of the perfect chip. The number of variables isn’t high, but they can make a huge difference to the end result.
- The Potato: One of the things that annoys me about your common high street supermarket is that they never sell the varieties suitable for chipping loose. They’ll have some kind of cheap all-purpose mongrel spud available (avoid at all costs), but if you want a couple of Maris Pipers (my chipping potato of choice), you need to fork over a couple of quid for a large bag. This necessitates eating chips every night for some time which, although immeasurably pleasurable, can have debilitating side-effects.
- The Oil. I recommend Lion and Globe peanut oil, manufactured in Hong Kong. Peanut oil is available from any decent Chinese supermarket, and is recommended firstly because it has a high flash point. This means it is safer to use than other oils, as it’s less likely to burn, the point at which point oil can a) become carcinogenic, and b) set your kitchen alight, killing your children while they sleep. Peanut oil also doesn’t retain flavours, so it can be re-used often. And it tastes nice. On the downside, the oil has much higher concentrations of saturated fatty acids and monosaturated fatty acids than nearly all other cooking oils: this may bother you – it doesn’t me.
First up, the cut. This is, of course, a matter of personal preference, but I prefer the traditional French Fry cut, offering an approximate 7mm square cross-section. This gives the end result a perfect balance of crisp golden exterior and fluffy white interior.
After cutting your chips, you should wash them to get rid of any excess starch. Dry them off carefully (I use a clean tea-towel) to lose as much surface moisture as you can. Then it’s into the oil. To obtain a nice crisp finish it’s important to initially fry the potato at a lower temperature, say 130° – use a thermometer – this allows any remaining starch in the surface cells to dissolve and form a glue with the outer cell walls, creating a thicker, crunchier coating. Five minutes at this temperature should be enough, or until you can squash one of the chips between your fingers but the surface hasn’t yet started to brown.
Next up, remove your frying basket from the heat and set aside. Continue heating the oil until it reaches a temperature of 180°, then return the chips to the pan. This quick, final burn will brown and crisp the exterior – it should only take two or three minutes.
Remove the chips from the pan one final time, shake loose any excess fat, then add salt, pepper and pie to taste.
To change tack slightly: The pie above is merely one of Tescos’ finest, but award-winning blogger Scaryduck has much bigger concerns. Alarmed at the absence of Breville’s historic Pie Magic machine from Britain’s department stores and cookware shops, he’s set up a petition to campaign for its reintroduction.
After all, as one of the signatories states, “There is one thing better than food, and that is food in a pie.”
The Mrs does a damn fine home-made oven chip. I’ve always been too chicken to try deep-frying them myself. Those mid-80s public information films about the dangers of chip pans must have left their mark on my psyche.
Tasty and crunchy and yummy. You cant beat a good blanching. King Edwards are also a good spud to chooce – they mash well as well. Always sprinkle your chips with salt as soon as you bring them out of the oil, whilst they are still sizzling, the salt sticks.
Have you tried 60’s retro deep fried spam, egg and chips, a lethal combination, but occassionally it has to be done.
Damn it Fraser, I have said it before and I will say it again – i wish you lived a bit nearer. (Aside from anything else the damn garden is full of snails).
Fraser, I’m worried. You seem to cook and eat and nothing else these days. Are you getting out at all?
The chips look good though and there’s a Chinese supermarket round the corner and I have a thermometer and a chip pan, so why not, eh?
The Nautilus won an award? What for? Surly staff? Services to botulism?
I’ve heard it all now.
As far a chips are concerned my preference is the crispier the better. The odd one from the chip chop that looks like it’s been through the fryer twice is my favourite. Chip shops that chuck a load of those in with your scrumps should have their own good chip shop guide.
Theres a strange chippy near my grandads (that i cannot remember the name of, but its in wednesbury, west midlands). They make some very thin batter, and dip the uncooked chips in it before frying. As its thin, most runs off, but bits congregate on the edges and imperfections in the chip, resulting in not a battered chip, but a chip with tiny amounts of light batter on the edges.
They are delicious.
Does making chips not make your kitchen (& by association entire flat/house) stink of stale fat?
Not that I’ve noticed – but you’d need to ask my flatmates.
Far be it for me to suggest expenditure on additional kitchen gadgets, but a decent deep fat fryer takes all the guesswork out of this process. Most ones these days also have integral pong filters.
Hee Hee!! Since I read Scary and your comments about the Pie Magic, I remembered how handy they were (my gran used to have one – she had all the gadgets), and scooted on over to EBay to check it out. The one you link to had a ‘Buy Now’ option, so I attempted to do just that. However, as soon as I got there, some retrobate had got in there sharpish and beat me to it. So now I’m bidding in an 8 day auction… (sigh!)
You’ve obviously been taking lessons from the Belgians (who, after all, invented the chip and have elevated the making of it to an art form). Their Fritkots (chip shops) always do the two stage frying thing. But once cooked they then do a “throwing the chips up and down in a big metal cone” thing. I’m not sure exactly how this helps, but you may want to experiment.
Ooh, yes, I remember that gas leak one too. But not entirely. I have a very vivid memory of her reaching for the light switch and the Noooooooooooooooooo! moment…
Must have blocked out the ensuing explosion. Too traumatic for my tender young mind, I presume.
I might like to point out the dangers of buying used Pie Magic from ebay.
Two words: poo pie.
Mmmm, poo pie.
My favourite chips are served with the steak in The Boar’s Head in Ardington, Oxfordshire. They stack the chips up jenga-style, slap the steak on top of them, and pour cafe de paris butter over the whole thing. I think you might like this place Fraser, they do a kickass poached egg salad with black pudding and always have lots of lovely cheese. And Foie Gras. :P
I had some rather disappointing foie gras on sunday at north londons le monmartre. As you can imagine i was rather disappointed.
I did however follow it with zebra, which was most pleasant, although not as nice as the kangeroo i exchanged some for with a friend.
The pear and chocolate tart, was however orgasmic.
Nautilus won “best uk chip shop” a few years running but I think they printed the certificate out themselves.
The only awards it could ever get would be for having the wierdest opening hours. It’s NEVER open when I want chips!
Much prefer the kebab shop next to The Old Black Lion.
The only thing that can improve a bag of chips is a loaf of cheap white bread to sandwich them in.
Chips ‘n’ gravy.
Chip butties with loadsa tomato sauce…
Mushy peas + Chips = Yum.
But then I’m a freak.
Pfft. Chips are best enjoyed with a nice bit of bearnaise and the juices from a great big steak. And that’s that.
I’ve had award winning chips from Nautilus at 2am and binned half of them by the time I got to Fordwych road.
I’m quite fussy about chips but also have stopped making chips at home around 8 years ago because they are never up to my expectations.
I may well try again.
I had fish and chips on the beach a few times over the summer, and that is definately the best way to enjoy a bag full of the little starchy fellas.
Fraser, those chips look enough to eat.
I suppose a mail order service is out of the question?
No, but I may make some jars of blog-jam and sell them via eBay.
I have a pie magic in storage in York if anyone wants it….I can’t guarantee its condition however. I would not be able to retrieve it until Christmas – and that’s only if I want to delve into my Pa’s workshop. Perhaps some things are better preserved in the memory.
We used to have pie magic parties at my old flat, but as it only did two pies at a time, it was hard work coordinating – I was rather like b in Prisoner Cell Block H slaving over the steam.
Favourite fillings were potato with spring onion and beans and my friend wanted me to make a donut pie. It was also good at making muffins.
Can you get Blog Jam Pie?
After blabbing about the steak & chips at the Boar’s Head, Ardington on this site, I just had to go and munch it last night. MMMm. it was very very slightly overcooked for my usual preference, but the chips were absolutely perfect. And my god…Cafe de Paris butter..drooolll…
Have you tried this?:
Wash your spuds (ooer)
Chop into thick wedges leaving the skin on
Microwave until slightly soft (this is only a shortcut, you can just add to the grill/oven time)
Place on oven tray, brush with mixture of olive oil and good quality chilli-sauce (the kind with real chilli-seeds; the stuff won’t really mix but you’ll work it out)
Place into pre-heated oven
Bake for about 7mins
Grill for about 5 mins or until crispy brown
Great alternative to chips and healthier. Like it matters.
I worked in a chippie during my gap year—God, it was backbreaking. We had to carry plastic buckets full of raw chips down two flights of stairs.
We used to blanch off in large batches in case we got a rush on (the shop was on the seafront in Ryde, Isle of Wight, and quite often we’d get two coachloads of grockles wanting haddock and large chips). We used solid vegetable oil, although beef tallow is best. Our blanch was 6–8 minutes at 115 °C, i.e. very cool oil. Final cook was about 2 minutes at 190 °C (the temperature would immediately drop to 180). Damn good chips, though I say so myself. I think they actually improve if there’s a gap between blanch and cook, an hour or two maybe. We would blanch 15–20 lbs, say, and then put them up over the fryers in trays. That let the holdover turn the insides nice and squishy so that you could finish them off in under a couple of minutes. We used Maris Pipers or King Edwards if not available. I’ve had some success with Desiree when cooking chips at home. Unforunately I’m currently pretty restricted in my choice (Costa Ricans seem to be unaware of the difference between waxy and floury—potatoes are potatoes are papas). I’m taking my new fryer for a whirl, see how it turns out.
Just by Golden Wonders, peel, chip and deep fry at 180 end of story. You don’t need do all of that other prep stuff.
mushy peas dried peas soaded in bicabonate of soda and water over night rinced and boiled in water until they are mushy
pies cheap beef and onions with seasoning cooked in oven for a few hours home made short crust pastry to make the best pies in the world
eccles cakes and apple pies cook apples in water with lemon juice only and make pies with pastry make with cinnamon eccles cakes with raisins and lemon rind and do add sugar on top of pastry before baking
If “There is one thing better than food, and that is food in a pie.â€
Then the one thing better than that is a pie on a roll!
If you have the time and you want a great chip use a Maris Piper spud, peel it and cut it into chips, put them in a saucepan of cold salted walter with a dash of vinigar, bring them to a light simmer (not a rolling boil) take them out and let them cool, blanch them at 135o for a few minutes then take them out and let them cool again in a fridge then whack up the fryer to 180o and fry them untill they float plus 30 seconds. Serve then with ice cold mayo – no better way to enjoy chips!