Hayden Groves' guide to making chips

Hayden Groves' guide to making perfect chips

by Hayden Groves 08 February 2014

For Chip Week we asked 2013's National Chef of the Year, Hayden Groves, for his top tips on how to make perfect chips. Read on for advice on the best chipping potatoes, how thick to cut them and how many times to cook them.

Hayden has won a number of prestigious accolades in culinary competitions such as the Parade Des Chefs where he is a four time Gold medallist.

Hayden has won a number of prestigious accolades in culinary competitions such as the Parade Des Chefs where he is a four time Gold medallist.

The ubiquitous chip – as a nation we just love them. We use 1.6 million tonnes of potatoes a year in the UK to make them. These days they come in many guises and sizes; soggy and drenched in malt vinegar, served in yesterday's newspaper with a side of cod and a saline whiff in the air; rustic skin-on wedges; French fries from your favourite fast food chain and the now common triple-cooked chip, the preserve of the high-end gastro pub (no doubt the very mention of the word 'triple' assures of an extra £1 per portion mark-up!).

To make amazing chips at home, you first need to choose a floury potato, which are naturally good 'chipper' varieties, such as Arran Victory, Red Rooster, Agri, Yukon Gold or that classic all-rounder Maris Piper. Personally I favour a variety called Chippies Choice, specifically grown for this very purpose. Whichever potato you choose, allow 300g per person.

To peel or not to peel? That is the question. Regardless, the first step is to wash and scrub your spuds, then either peel and chip or leave the skin on for the rustic approach. Leave the cut chips to soak in lots of cold water for at least 10 minutes and then change the water again and soak for a further 5 minutes to remove the starch.

Next question: twice or thrice cooked? If it’s the latter, bring them to a gentle simmer in salted water until tender, then remove carefully and place them on a cooling rack to dry out.

You’re going to find a few haven’t survived the journey and have broken up. Believe it or not, although they don’t look the best, these are going to taste great – the chef's treat. Once cool, leave them in the fridge or even better, if you have space, the freezer for an hour. This helps remove even more moisture.

Next, it's time to pick your frying medium. There are several options here; you can go with a vegetable oil like sunflower or rapeseed, or try something a little different like duck fat or beef dripping – even horse fat is popular in France!

Chips before cooking
With chips, the possibilities are endless
Different types of chip
Hayden's finished chips

Heat your chosen cooking oil to 130°C in your fryer or deep pan – it’s a good idea to use a digital probe to check the thermostat is accurate. Fry the chips in batches for 3–5 minutes (if you are cooking them from raw as in the twice cooked method you may need a little longer to make them tender). The oil should stop bubbling and the chips will just begin to turn a very light golden colour. This step removes further moisture and prevents a soggy, waterlogged interior.

Remove the chips from the fat, drain, tip back on the cooling rack and leave to cool, then place in the fridge again until needed. You can prepare to this stage and hold them in the fridge for up to two days until required.

Now it's time for the final step. Heat the oil to 180ºC and fry the chips until golden, approximately 3-4 minutes. Drain on some absorbent cloth and sprinkle with sea salt – it’s got to be a fine sea salt as those big, beautiful, fashionable flakes will just fall off. Serve with homemade mayonnaise, Béarnaise, vinegar, just naked or even that famous red stuff; any which way they’re going to taste amazing!

Once you have mastered potatoes, why not try vegetables such as beets, parsnips, carrots, celeriac or one of my personal favourites, Jerusalem artichokes. Slice into 2mm thick pieces and follow the twice cooked method of blanching raw at 130°C in vegetable oil for a couple of minutes, drain on a rack and then fry until crispy at 170°C. Drain, season and dig in!