I recently posted a photo onto Facebook of the steak & chips supper that I'd cooked for Rob's birthday. Fillet steak, medium rare, peas and home-made chips, pretty much always the meal of choice for both our birthdays, and a fabulous treat. Despite the fact that it was a fairly poor phone-snap, the chips received a lot of online admiration, so I thought I'd blog my method for making them. I think it's very simple; no deep-fat frying, no critical timing, but a world away from oven-chips in quality and taste. They're basically just roast potatoes in chip form, but not your pallid smooth roasties, these are roughened, crunchy and crispy, but concealing a soft and fluffy interior. Here's how I do it:
Peel your potatoes and cut them into chunky chips. It is CRUCIAL that you use 'good' roasting potatoes, for example King Edward or Maris Piper. A regular 'white' potato simply won't give you the same result.
Par-boil the chips for about 5 minutes until they are just beginning to soften (check with the point of a knife), but watch carefully, these floury potatoes can turn into mash if you're forgetful and leave them a little too long. Basically you want to be able to 'roughen them up' slightly when you shake them in the pan once drained, so bear that in mind when checking.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F) and place a large roasting tin inside the oven, with a large slug of vegetable oil in it. If you were being super-indulgent, a splodge of beef dripping or goose fat would be an excellent addition to the oil. You need the oil to be covering the base of the roasting tin, but only to a depth of about 1mm. Even if I'm only cooking chips for 2 I will use a large roasting tray as the chips cook better when they're not crowded together. If I were cooking for 4 I'd use 2 trays rather than try and squeeze them all into 1.
When the chips have par-boiled, drain them and let the steam evaporate for a minute (you don't want any water left in the pan) and then put the lid on and gently agitate the saucepan. The chips should now be slightly rough around the edges. This will ensure a crispy outer.
Carefully remove the tin of oil from the oven and tip the chips into it. The oil should be nice and hot so the chips will sizzle when they hit it. Use a spoon to baste the chips (cover them with oil) and return the roasting tray to the oven.
Leave them for at least half an hour before you're even tempted to fiddle with them. If you try and turn them over too soon they may stick to the base of the tray and you'll break them up trying to move them. However, after about half an hour shake the tin and use a spatula to flip the chips over to ensure that both sides are equally crunchy. Cook for a little longer.
My timings are slightly vague becuase much will depend on the size of your chips and the temperature of your particular oven, but it also depends how well done you like them. I like them pretty well-browned, but others may tend towards having them a bit paler, it's up to you.
Whenever you think they're ready, remove them from the oven and tip the chips onto a warmed plate lined with kitchen roll to absorb any excess fat. Sprinkle with a generous amount of flaky salt and serve with the meal of your choice.