OK, so they aren’t the shape you expected, and they are shallow fried, not deep fried, so you can call them something else if you like, but believe me, this is the best way to cook a potato with a crunchy outside and a rich melting centre, and that to me is what every chip aspires to be. As a preparation method it is simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. The hard bit is finding a decent potato in the first place.
A good chip needs a good potato. It’s often said that potatoes are either waxy or floury. There is some truth in that and some potatoes will never be waxy. Varieties like Charlotte or Pnk Fir Apple can be both, waxy when new and freshly dug but floury when older and taken from storage. The latter make good chips, as do some floury potatoes as long as they don’t fall apart too much in cooking. But most potatoes you can buy are neither waxy nor floury, but watery. Farmers are paid by weight and they achieve this essentially by adding water, both directly through irrigation and adding artificial fertiliser, but mostly indirectly through selective breeding for size which always comes at a cost to flavour and food value because size is also dilution. These watery potatoes are hopeless for making chips and will never develop a good crunch or a rich melting middle, or even a decent colour, unless perhaps you are committed enough to follow Heston Blumenthal’s approach of drying them out first by repeatedly freezing them, which does admittedly allow you to get a crunch out of a watery potato. Nearly all supermarket potatoes fall into this category, although Morrissons does sometimes ofter offer heritage varieties like Pink Fir or Shetland Black which are dense enough to make a good chip. If you have to buy from the usual supermarket offering, Maris Piper or Charlotte are your best bet, but neither will be as good as the same variety from your garden and both will probably be too watery to develop any kind of crunch. The ones in the picture are Charlotte and the more floury Highland Burgundy (hence the red colour, Highland Burgundies being the only coloured potato I know that keeps its red colour when cooked) both from my garden but you can also get Highland Burgundy and other classic varieties that will make a decent chip online from Carrolls at www.heritage–potatoes.co.uk/.
To make chips peel your potatoes and dice them into cubes of about 1cm. Put them in a shallow pan with a generous dollop of duck or goose fat and cook them over a gentle heat, turning from time to time, for a good half an hour until they are cooked through, but not coloured. To enhance the crunchiness, at this point pile them up in the corner of the pan and apply a light downward pressure. The idea is slightly to break up the surface of the cubes as these damaged bits will crisp up nicely in the next phase of cooking. Raise the heat now to medium and keep cooking stirring every five minutes or so until the cubes are well coloured and crisp around the outside. The whole process should take about an hour, although it never seems that long, and it shouldn’t be hurried as you risk getting a burnt flavour if you turn the heat up too high. Then remove them from the pan leaving any remaining fat behind. They will have absorbed some but don’t worry about this, duck fat is both delicious and healthy, so light you could dress a salad with it, and quite unlike the stale cooking oil loaded with toxic trans fats most chippies use. That’s it, all they need is some salt which you can add on the plate. This will be the centrepiece of any table, but it needs an accompaniment and it’s hard to beat a rare steak bordelaise and Blue Lake french beans fresh from the garden, which is what we had with the ones in the picture.