Idler Nineteen Late Summer 1997

The Chips Are Up
Alex James on how to cook the perfect chip

You can make a chip in wok but you have to cook chips twice, really. There is blanching at 150 C and the browning at max. If you get a wok that hot, it catches fire and then you're in a pickle. If you cut the potato up small enough - a chipstick-sized gauge - then you can get them crispy in the old Saigon saucepan. The secret is to heat the proto-chip shape potatoes up, so they don't cool the fat down too much. If the fat is too cool you will have seeping problems, oil will penetrate, and nasty mushy stuck-together chips will occur. Sluicing your raw chips with a kettle of boiling water helps not only to keep the oil temp up, but also rinses off the starch, like they do in the chippy.

The potato is the most important ingredient in chips, and you want to go with a waxy one. Personally, I'm a Maris Piper but Charles Fontaine says King Edwards are better and he's a chef. The bag often holds clues as to whether the potatoes will make nice chips.

Basically cut waxy potatoes into small thick chips, rinse them with boiling water and stick then in the third-full wok until they're done (brown) taking care not to spill the wok or let it catch fire. Dry the grease off the chips with kitchen towel and get your mum to buy you a deep fat fryer for your birthday, so you can make proper "pont neufs."

Some Chip Thoughts:
You can do whole potatoes in a deep fryer

The Ivy, London's best restaurant, has three sorts of chips on the menu, but you can only get a table there if you are famous.

Harry Ramsden cooks his chips in lard. He is from the North.

There is no vinegar in McDonalds.

Make sure you get all the "Dinner Lady Moles" out of your potatoes.

Americans think crisps are called chips.

Mmmmm potato chips.