Oven chips

Absolutely nothing to do with frozen ‘French fries’ at all, this is a tongue-in-cheek name for slices of parboiled potato baked with oil in the oven until brown and crisp and then seasoned with a little vinegar. I have always been reluctant to deep-fry in my restaurant kitchens: this has nothing at all to do with health or safety considerations and everything to do with sex. In my mid-twenties, just starting as the chef at the Old Compton Wine Bar, my then girlfriend hated the smell of cooking and denied me her bed if she picked up the faintest trace or whiff of grease. Obviously the frequency of my bathing quickened, but that was not enough. A little thought on the subject resulted in the removal from the kitchen of a smelly old chip pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 large baking potatoes, well scrubbed but not peeled
  • 4 tbsp olive oil or, if you can get it, rendered duck fat
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp good-quality red wine vinegar

Method

Place the potatoes in a pan with enough cold salted water to completely cover them and have 2 cm to spare. On a high flame bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to its maximum.

When the spuds are cool enough to handle, slice them into three thick rounds each. Trim the end slices by 5 mm to expose the flesh. Oil or grease a heavy baking sheet and place the potatoes flat on this. Brush with more oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes. The side of the potato slices in contact with the baking sheet should have begun to brown and crisp. If this is not the case, then continue baking for a few more minutes. When you are absolutely satisfied that they are crisp and loose turn them over and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. A second sprinkling with salt and pepper is welcome at this point.

Serving

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the ‘chips’ with the vinegar.

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