Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Triple cooked chips

(note for Americans, I'm talking about what y'all call fries)

That man (HB) has made a quiet, but extensive contribution to British food with the triple cooked chip. Hardly anyone who knows their way around a kitchen uses any other method, even if they don't go to the extremes of dry matter ratios & refrigeration some recipes call for.

One of the earliest recipes I've seen is "chips cooked in hay" which has the added bonus of injecting the finished chips with ketchup.

The first step is to wash the loose starch away from the cut chips, rather than run water wastefully I soaked & dumped a couple of time, then bring it all up to the boil & cook the chips. They want to be on the very verge of coming apart. This is where the magic happens, we are attempting to create small fissures in the surface of the chip which will enable us to form a starch glass in the frying stages. That ought to mean we end up with a good crunch & a soft fluffy interior.

Getting the chips out of the boiling water is the hard part. They are on the edge of falling apart, the chips are going into the fridge, for at least an hour, which has 2 main effects. 1) it helps dehydrate the chip, which we need when they are about to go in the oil (hot oil + water == very bad). 2) It firms them up, making it easier to handle with out them falling apart all over the show.

Next up hot oil, it wants to be 130-40°C for the first fry, this mainly to bring the chips back up to a cooking temperature, so they stay in until a crust has formed, it takes about 8 minutes  don't let the chips colour that's for the next stage. Crank the heat under the oil up & get it to a much more serious 190°C and cook till golden.
Drain and dry the oil off, now for the fun.

Getting hold of syringes is pretty easy, but nobody wanted to sell me hypodermic needles. I'm not sure if the sale is controlled or if most pharmacies just don't carry them. Fortunately I know people in the medical profession who seemed unfazed by my tales of injecting chips with ketchup & trying to get marinade under the skin of pork. I'll recommend sucking the ketchup up before fitting the needle, it seemed a lot easier that way.

One question that seemed to crop up without answer everytime this recipe was mentioned is "How much ketchup do you inject ?". Answers seemed to be lacking, which is because when you start injecting, you can feel the amount of ketchup going in, at a guess though I'd say a decent sized chip takes about a 1/3-1/2 a millilitre of ketchup since I was filling my 5ml syringe every 10-15 chips. Eat them whilst hot, really, they are excellent.

Oh yeah there is actually a reason to inject the ketchup, its to stop that lovely starch glass outer from going soggy & ruining the crunch you've been doing your best to create. Also try to have enough syringes for everyone to have a go (Well grown ups at any rate) it'll add a certain level of amusement to the proceedings.
(Oh yes I skipped the hay step mainly because I'm not convinced the hay I had was safe to eat, but once the spring lambs start to be more available I may do lamb baked in hay with hay cooked chips as a Sunday dinner.)

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