Triple cooked chips are not new, in fact Heston Blumenthal first showed off his potato derived sorcery 10 years ago this month. In honour of that epicurean discovery, I decided to make some to go with a nice steak for Mrs H at the weekend. Mrs H is not a massive home made chip fan and I generally only get away with making them without some 'Feedback" when I pair them with her favourite; steak.
I didn't realise I had never made them for her this way so was surprised when she raved over how good the chips were. I even did a little internal happy dance when she announced "I could have just had a massive bowl of them, they were awesome". Looks like good old chips are back on the menu. yahoo!
They are seriously good chips but if you've stumbled upon this recipe via Google and you're planning on making these chips today, think again if they need to be ready in less than 3 hours, as that's the minimum time it takes to get them perfect.
Yup, they're good but they're a labour of love, it's not a lot of work, it's just a bit of science to get them perfectly fluffy on the inside and a perfect golden crispy jacket of goodness on the outside. TOTALLY worth it though, so as we say here in South Africa; Make a plan. I tend to make them on the weekend when I'm pottering around the house doing other things, this si too much hassle for a mid-week meal.
The sciencey (not a word) secret to the perfect chip is to heat it until its soft, dry it out, dry it out again and then heat until it's crispy. You may or may not know that one of the the best ways to dry food is to put it uncovered in the freezer. Let's get on with the science based cookery.
1 Large Potato per person
1 litre / 2 pints of Oil for frying - I generally use vegetable or sunflower oil because it's easily available but beef dripping or Peanut Oil also work well. Olive Oil won't work because it's burn point is too low.
Malt Vinegar - The brown one. I f you can't get white vinegar or apple cider vinegar also fine.
Rock / Kosher Salt - Its just better, table salt will work, it's just not as chefy!
Before you start, find a good sized metal baking tray / roasting tin / oven sheet and make sure you have enough room for it to fit into your freezer and for the door to close. If you're like me, that's going to take a little freezer re-arrangement.
Place a medium sized saucepan half full with water on a high heat
Add a punch (3 pinches) of salt to the water
Peel your potatoes
Slice length ways and then slice length ways again to make chips. Thickness is irrelevant so cut 'em how you like but 1cm thick works well. If you want skinny fries, go to Mickey D's, this recipe is not for you.
Add the chips to the now hot water and allow to boil until they are soft but still strong enough not to break when you pick one up. If you go too far and they're mushy, well done dufus, you made mash, add some butter, mash it up, put it to one side and start again. Use the mash tomorrow.
Carefully drain the boiled chips in a colander for a couple of minutes to make sure all the water has drained away. Be gentle, and try and keep the chips whole.
In your large (and now lightly oiled) metal oven tray / baking sheet / roasting tin, lay your boiled chips out in single layer if you can, if you can't don't stress, just try and give them as much space between chips as you can.
Put the tray with the boiled chips into the freezer
After 1 hour, in the same pan you boiled the chips in, dry it and half fill it with the oil and let it sit on a medium heat for 10 minutes
Remove your chips from the freezer and drop one frozen chip into the oil. When it floats to the top (or if you're fancy and have a thermometer, when it gets to 160c / 320f), carefully add the rest of the chips (in batches to prevent the oil spitting) and cook for 10 minutes. This is a low oil heat cook so don't expect mass frying and golden crisping yet, you're going for pale and greasy but sealed. trust me.
Do not throw away your cooking oil, leave it in the pan on the stove with the heat off
Remove your part-cooked chips from the oil and place on a paper towel / paper napkin / kitchen roll to oak up some of the excess oil. Don't worry, if they look greasy and pale but are still in one piece, you are right on point.
After a couple of minutes drying, place them back in your freezing tray.
Back in the freezer they go
After at least 1 hour but as long as you like, turn the heat under the now cooled oil back on at medium to high heat and remove your chips from the freezer.
If you have a thermometer, get your oil up to 190C / 375F or wait for a single chip to float to the top and then wait another 3 minutes
Again, add your chips in batches and then immediately turn up the heat to full.
Cook until golden brown and crispy
Remove and dry on paper towels again for a couple of minutes
preferably in a large metal bowl (but anythign you can toss them in will work) place the hot chips in the bowl add a good squirt of vinegar and a good punch of salt and toss. If you've done it right and you used a metal bowl, you should hear the sound of crispiness! If so you've scored a win.
Serve them quickly while still hot and enjoy the sounds of satisfaction coming from your guests.
As you can see they're a bit of a mission but when you take the time to actually make them properly, you'll see what all the fuss has been about for the last 10 years.
Tips & Tricks
It's not always easy to get a choice of potato but if you can where you are, a Russett or King Edward will work well for this but essentially any large potato will work.
The vinegar is a key ingredient here but once you add it, you need to get those chips served before it soaks in and they get soggy
These chips are great for a big plate of disco fries with some cheese, bacon and spring onion and sides of Tomato Ketchup, American Mustard and Barbecue sauce, a nice guilty pleasure.
These chips make a perfect accompaniment for a well cooked steak and a side of coleslaw or corn on the cob, check out our killer marinade here. Also, the British classic fish and chips with beer batter, onion rings and mushy peas or baked beans. Its a massive crowd pleaser.
You can do the boiled and first dry and keep the chips in the freezer before the final cook for pretty much as long as you like if you move them to a sealed container. So if you try them and get hooked, do yourself a favour and spend one Saturday morning making up a massive batch for freezing and freeze them in portions so you can have them within 20 minutes whenever the mood takes you.