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.
Peel the potatoes and slice about
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.
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.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.