By Nick Morrison
The best chips in the world are probably those from Belgium . Belgium enjoys a very high standard of cooking in its restaurants etc. One reason for this is that you are not allowed to cook for the public in Belgium until you have passed a 2 year course on the subject. The only exception is that you may open a “Frituur”, Flemish for “Chippy”, and that is only if you have started the course. The Belgians even have an annual chip cooking contest.
The first thing is the potato, Bintje is the potato of choice. Never seen it here. The best one I have found is “Wilja” another very Flemish sounding name. Never seen it for sale in Orkney except as a seed potato from Shearers. A reasonable one is “Maris Piper. King Edwards available locally have given indifferent results.
How to Prepare and Make Seriously Good Chips
1.Clean and cut your potato into even sized chips, peel if the skin blemished.
2. Rinse the chips well to remove starch granules released in the cutting process.
3.Then dry the chips on a clean tea towel. This stops the oil dropping in temperature too much when you put the chips in the hot oil. It also reduces the amount of oily vapours in the kitchen.
4.The first fry is at 135Deg C. The end of the first fry is not indicated by the colour of the chips or length of time in the oil but by your ability to easily crush a chip twixt thumb and forefinger—having taken the chips from the oil first!
At this stage you can allow them to go cold.
5.The second fry is at 190 Deg C. The finish point is your preference of colour/ crispiness in the chip. My family like the corners of the chips turning brown and a fair amount of crispness.
If serving at table, line the serving dish with paper towel putting a couple over the top to conserve heat.
The Belgians and Dutch serve with mayonnaise — enjoy!
Care of the oil.
The best oil to use is Rape seed oil, Sunflower can be used but will not last as long. Belgian professionals reckon to use the oil for 8 days. In domestic use this probably equates to 10 to 12 times.
Two things to look for #1 darkening in colour, #2 excessive frothing whilst cooking. In the pic the oil being filtered because of a lot of particles in the oil from preparing saute potatoes is darker than the fresh oil alongside and has been used 6 times.
The wire chip basket can be a right pig to clean if left till oil changes. To wash it up after every use then it is a doddle.
Lastly if readers would like to nominate potato varieties that they have found make good chips please feel free.
God, but I love chips. Friday night is chippy-tea night, from the Peedie Chippy in Finstown – you’ve go me thinking about it, Nick, and it’s only Thursday! Cold weather – comfort food – that’s my excuse!