Really chipper chips

 

CHIPGATE:Would you be daring enough to ask a Michelin-starred chef for chips? KEVIN THORNTON, who will serve them in his restaurant – “on polite request” – reveals how to cook the perfect chip

A FEW WEEKS AGO I took a taxi from Dublin airport to town. I noticed the taxi driver eyeing me a good few times in his rear view mirror and for a few minutes I wondered if I looked unusually suspicious, or if I had suddenly grown a second nose or something. Stopped at a traffic light he turned around to get an even better look at me and suddenly had a eureka moment: “ah Jaysus I have it – you’re the chip fella!” I had to laugh – I’ve been cooking for more than 30 years and am probably best known for the “chipgate” episode of some years back. [Thornton got into an altercation with customer who ordered them, off-menu, then sent them back.]

It wasn’t remotely funny to me at the time, of course, and I felt slighted at having to justify my high standards in relation to my work, though I can laugh at it now, and it certainly did me no harm at all in terms of publicity.

At Thornton’s we make chips (on “polite” request) using a stainless steel electric fryer. If you don’t have a fryer at home you can use a wide, base-heavy saucepan. Always ensure you only less than half fill your pan with oil.

Probably the most important element in successful chip making is choosing the right type of potato. With so many varieties available it’s difficult to know which to opt for. We use Maris Pipers in the restaurant, though my partner, Muriel, who according to some of our son Conor’s friends “makes the best chips ever,” swears by Roosters. In my opinion, you can’t go far wrong using either.

At the restaurant we use a little pectinex and water to soak our spuds in before cooking them. We cook the chips three times and the end result is a crisp, golden exterior and a fluffy interior. You can obviously omit pectin at home.

Kevin Thornton’s perfect chips (restaurant-style)

500g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled

500g water

15g Pectinex (from health food shops)

10g sea salt

3 litres sunflower oil

Cut the peeled potatoes into 7cm batons by 1.5cm thick. Rinse the chips under cold running water to remove surface starch. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, cover with cold water and the pectin. Allow to soak for one hour in a fridge.

Remove the potato from the liquid. Mix 500ml of water and the salt together and stir to dissolve the salt. Place the potatoes in a vacuum bag with the water mix and seal it. Steam at 100 degrees for 17 minutes. Remove the bag from the steamer and allow it to cool in iced water. When it is cool, drain the chips and remove all surface liquid from them by drying with a linen cloth.

Blanch at 160 degrees in sunflower oil for three minutes, then remove and allow them to cool. Heat the oil to 195 degrees and cook the chips until golden brown (about three minutes). Remove and drain on linen or kitchen paper. The reason for adding the salt earlier in the process is that the flavour will penetrated the inside of the chip, whereas if salt is not added till the end of cooking, it just stays on the surface.

Thornton’s home-cooked chips

500g Rooster potatoes

Sea salt flakes

Sunflower oil

Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut them into 7cm by 1.5cm pieces. Place in cold running water for five minutes. Strain and dry each chip individually using a clean dry tea towel or kitchen paper.

Heat the sunflower oil to 195 degrees. Place the chips into the fryer and cook until golden brown.Remove the chips and place in a linen cloth and sprinkle with a little salt and serve.

See thorntonsrestaurant.com