About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Chips

I decided that the best way of preserving my blighted potatoes would be to turn them into frozen chips. We used to buy chips ready frozen, so making them from scratch is something I've learnt to do in the past year. I had some trouble finding instructions for how to do so, and eventually found what I was looking for in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book.

She starts by saying that deep frying has no place in a domestic kitchen, especially with children around: I know we should not over-protect them, but I draw the line at boiling oil. Having said this, I admit the book would be incomplete without instructions for making these delicious kinds of potato. I tried making chips according to her recipe, which involves cooking them in small batches. They're crispy enough when they first come out of the oil, but by the time enough small batches have been cooked for a meal (and there are only two of us), most of the chips have gone soggy.

I started experimenting with an alternative method. We used to cook oven chips, so could I replicate those? The final stage of cooking is obviously in the oven, but they're coated in fat before we buy them, so I'd need a first stage of cooking to apply that coating. I tried deep frying, but that still led to sogginess - probably too much oil absorbed. Then I tried shallow frying, again in fairly small batches, which was much more successful. I experimented with different fats, including sunflower oil and various meat fats, before settling on beef tallow as my favourite, closely followed by lamb tallow. Lard is no good as it burns too easily.

The recipe is pretty simple:
  • Cut potatoes into chip shapes, thickness according to preference.
  • Heat fat in frying pan to a medium heat.
  • Add chips to pan, in small enough quantity to make a single layer with a bit of room to move about.
  • Stir constantly while cooking, to coat chips all over in fat and keep them from sticking to the pan and each other. Any bits that do stick to the pan should be scraped off so they don't burn.
  • When chips are just starting to colour, transfer to a baking sheet.
    --- Chips can be frozen at this stage, if storing ---
  • Cook in oven preheated to gas mark 6/200°C/400°F for 10 min (longer if thick, or if frozen. Even longer if both thick and frozen).



Chips after first stage of cooking, ready to freeze or finish cooking in the oven

We think of chips as being high in fat, and the deep fried kind certainly do absorb a lot of oil. However, when I look at how much fat is absorbed when cooking a portion of chips this way, and consider how much butter I'd add to boiled or baked potatoes, I find it's about the same. For me, then, chips are no more fatty than any other way of eating potatoes, but that probably says more about how much butter I put on my spuds than the healthiness of this chip recipe!

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