Opinions vary greatly as to how chips should be cooked. What`s the best variety to use? Do you get a better result if you use vegetable oil or dripping? BigHospitality spoke to several chefs about their preferences especially for National Chip Week.
Beef dripping is the preferred method at The Three Fishes, Ribble Inns, in Mitton, Lancashire, where it is used not only to cook chips, but also fish and onion rings.
Richard Upton, head chef, says “I love beef dripping – it brings the flavour out. The chips are a better end product. With vegetable oil, the chips crisp up but then five minutes later they’re soggy whereas with beef dripping, the chips will hold their crispiness for 15 minutes. We get good feedback from customers – the flavour is key.”
Vegetarian customers are given the option of chips cooked in vegetable oil “but we don’t get that many – maybe one or two,” adds Richard, “and we have a separate fryer for vegetable oil.”
Maris Piper potatoes are peeled and cut using a chipping machine into a chunky chip like a wedge.
The Three Fishes serves, on average, 1,100 fish and chip meals a month. It has a fish and chip range from Ellidge & Fairley, with three holders for the beef dripping – one for blanching chips, one for reheating and one for the fish. The gastropub serves, on average, 2,000 people a week and gets through 25 bags of potatoes a week.
Warrick Dodds, head chef of The Sparling restaurants in Barton and Lytham, Lancashire, uses both sunflower oil and beef dripping for chips. Two Electrolux double fryers – one for each oil are used. “We serve comfort food and chips are a major part of that,” he says.
Chunky chips are hand cut from Desiree potatoes supplied by Richard Wellock. “I prefer Desiree – the chips look much better, not like they’ve come from a fish and chip shop,” he says. “Fatter chips are more popular – we serve them as a side dish and on the main menu.”
Customers can choose at the point of ordering whether they want chips cooked in sunflower oil or beef dripping. “Although beef dripping gives a fuller flavour, most customers opt for sunflower oil,” he says, “as people are generally wary about trying something new.”
When asked which is easier to use, Dodds says, “It’s the same for both. There’s no difference in cooking – apart from the flavour. They both take the same time – 10 to 12 minutes blanching followed by two or three minutes frying.”
At the newly opened Fish and Grill restaurant in Croydon, Surrey, chips are cooked with sunflower oil. Malcolm John, restaurant owner, says “We sell so many that dripping would be a lot more messy and we would constantly be cleaning the fryers. There’s more flavour using beef dripping, but sunflower oil is healthier. Customers do ask us what they’re cooked in.”
Chips are hand cut from Maris Piper potatoes. “The only problem with fresh potatoes is you’re at the mercy of the seasons,” says John. “If there’s ground frost overnight, the potatoes could turn sugary and they won’t crisp up. We tend to use Maris Piper throughout the year. If they’re sugary we may switch to Cyprus potatoes.”
A Falcon electric twin fryer is used for cooking chips. They are blanched at 110 degrees Celsius, then chilled overnight for the next day when they are cooked at a high temperature.
Dee Whooley, head chef at The Punch Tavern in London’s Fleet Street, prefers using vegetable oil. “It’s long lasting and economical,” he says. “It’s a clean oil and dries off well. It’s not as greasy as dripping. In the past, I’ve cooked chips in goose or duck fat – the taste is great but it gives a much greasier fry.”
To cope with the volume, the pub uses McCain Beefeater chips cooked in vegetable oil - KTC oil from KTC Edibles and he uses a Falcon double fryer. “For specials, we hand cut chips and blanch them at a low temperature at 120 degrees Celsius and then crisp them up to order. We use red potatoes from London Quality Fruit.”