The Perfect Chip

You Need

one large potato per person. To achieve a light, fluffy chip, crisp and golden on the outside, choose a firm but floury-textured potato such as Desiree, Maris Piper, King Edward, Romano, Roseval, Pentland Dell and Bintje. For the fat you have a wide choice. Duck and goose fat, chicken fat and beef dripping all have their aficionados, and they are efficient for frying as they have a high smoke point. Others will prefer not to use animal fats, and will look to olive oil or sunflower, groundnut or canola (grapeseed) oil. Products labelled simply ‘ vegetable oil’ are perhaps the least appealing, since they may include palm and coconut oils, both high in saturated fats.

Do not use any fat more than two or three times, as high heat breaks down the molecules in the oil and causes it to deteriorate. If you can, use fresh each time.

Read more


Peel the potatoes and slice about 1 cm ( inch thick, and into strips of similar width. it will give good results: a thicker chip like this will absorb less fat than thin-cut chips. Place in a bowl of lightly salted water for half an hour. Drain the chips and then dry them thoroughly in a clean tea towel to avoid the fat spitting as moisture hits it.

Cooking the chips in two stages gives more control over the end result. Stage one cooks the potato gently, until barely done. Stage two, at a higher temperature, gives the chips their characteristic golden crispness. Unless you are cooking no more than a couple of handfuls of chips, do them in batches, to prevent the temperature of the oil falling too much.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or heavy saucepan, to a temperature of 190°C/375°F. If you do not have a cooking thermometer, a cube of bread dropped into the oil will immediately sizzle and turn brown by the time you have counted to ten, when the oil is hot enough.

Lower the chips into the oil, and fry for about 5 minutes, moving them around with a heat-proof spatula or slotted spoon to ensure even cooking. Remove and drain on crumpled kitchen paper. Finish the stage-one cooking of the rest of the chips.

For stage two. heat the oil to 200°C/400°F and put the chips back in the oil in batches, then fry for 2 to 3 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from the fat, drain on kitchen paper and then serve them, or keep them warm in the oven while you finish cooking the rest of the chips.

To Serve

Chips cooked like this are good enough to eat on their own, dipped Belgian-fashion into really good mayonnaise; or, of course, served with a perfectly grilled steak or a piece of cod, with or without batter, as you prefer. I also like to give them a sprinkling of coarse sea salt before serving them.