I love chips me. I do. you can tell because as stated earlier I am rotund, fat, lardy. I’m a fan of the fried potato. So simple; potatoes, fat and of course heat. But why is it so difficult to cook the perfect chips?
Oh, a clarification for all you loverly peoples from the US and A – Chips are what you would call ‘fries’. I know chips to you are what we in the UK call crisps. They are different. I love ’em both. Crisps is a subject for another time, here we will concentrate on chips.
Anywho, now we have cleared up the semantics of the fried potato let us move onto a bit of a rant. I know variety is the spice of life and I know people have their own tastes and all that but how is it that it’s very hard to find the ideal chip. The ideal chip ladies and gentleman is a chip that is cooked in very hot fat, until it is golden and just on the cusp of going brown on the points and corners. The result is a chip of such immense flavour and texture as to tickle you taste buds into a frenzy of ecstasy. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.
For instance we have a great chippy not 200yds from where I live – Excel Fisheries – and two ways of cooking. They use real dripping for their cooking liquid which is the fat of choice. So we have the same potatoes and the same frying medium in the same fryers in the same shop. This is where the similarity stops unfortunately. OK so both the following scenarios produce chips which are better than most admittedly but that doesn’t detract from the fact there is a clear gap in the deliciousness of the finished product.
When the gentleman of the shop is on cooking duty the chips. . . well they look and feel as if he has just shown the potatoes to the fat. They are anaemic to be honest. They still taste great for sure, but the visual and textural aspects are sadly lacking. It’s also a suspicion of mine that the fat is not of the high and required temperature to give them a golden glow… even if he left them in long enough that is. However salvation is upon us as most of the time the lady of the shop is on the rota more often than not. She has the fat so hot it smokes, she has the knowledge and fortitude to leave them there potatoes in the fat for a goodly long time, until a golden hue radiates from every stick of spud. Oh heaven.
The way I have described also leaves the chips dry. A lot of chippies in this humble little corner of Lincolnshire produce soggy, wet, greasy chips. My in-laws are in the wet soggy greasy camp. They shun the ideal; crisp, golden dry chip, with a paucity of regard to their taste receptors. Each to there own I suppose, but who’s writing this?
Portion size is another issue that boils my piss. At my local mentioned above we have a medium portion that is enough to fill, but not so much you feel bloated. Some decide that a single scoop is sufficient. They would be wrong. There is a chippy in a village a few miles away that does fish patties. These are a slice of fish sandwiched between two slices of potato and then battered. No chippy that I know of in town does these, they are sublime by the way, so off we go to the village in question only to be confronted with a portion of chips that makes even McDonald’s medium fries look generous. (McDonald’s, and Burger King for that matter, they are not chips they are fries. So they don’t count.)
There is nothing quite like ‘Chips and Peas’ in the fresh air, better still if the air in question is cold, preferably salty like at the seaside. Chips and Gravy is also a winner.
with a shit-ton of salt and vinegar – obviously.