The perfect hot chip is a sight to behold and a taste to cherish. The essence of perfection when it comes to golden-brown hot chips lies within the snowy-white, puffy centre and crunchy richness of the outer casing, that gives it that ‘crack’ when snapped between four fingers. The humble potato can bring so much joy to so many customers, so every now and then, it’s important to pause to consider the work that goes into pulling off the perfect, crispy chip.
Here are 5 steps you can take to achieve crispy chips, each and every time:
1 - Pick your spud
There are two main derivatives of potato; waxy and floury. In order to achieve that fluffy, light centre and crispy outer layer, your best option is a floury spud. It’s this kind that has the most starch content and the least amount of moisture, which means your chips aren’t going to sag due to excess water content. Every cook has their own tried-and-tested choice and all with very plausible reasons, no doubt. However, the one that wins out consistently in Australia is the Russet Burbank, a variant that’s been used by McDonald’s for some time. Tom Miller, chef at prestigious Cottage Point Inn explained to Monta Foods: “It’s high in starch and it’s elongated shape makes it perfect for cutting into chips.” Their relatively dry meatiness doesn’t seep as much moisture to the surface, “which means they crisp up nicely and hold their shape well out of the fryer.” Other non-waxy alternatives include Ranger Russet, Australian Coliban and Sebago. If time is not on your side and come service, your team are run off their feet, why not opt for a pre-cut, frozen solutions. Our frozen chips come in 10kg bags and they’re beer battered for optimal crunchiness.
2 - Soaking
High-starch potatoes tend to ooze a starchy liquid that clings to the outer layer of the chip when cut. When they’re dropped into a fryer, the remnants of starch on the surface attract heat rapidly, causing them to stick together and brown quicker than they crisp up. Chef Miller advised that it’s best to soak them “in cold water for at least six hours or if possible, overnight,” to eliminate the sugars that cause chips to caramelise in the fryer. Be sure to dry them thoroughly before dropping them into a fryer to avoid “excess water on the outer surface, which causes the chips to steam when cooking.”
3 - The oil
Any cook who’s been in the business for long enough will have had at least one heated discussion with a colleague about the best type of oil to use for frying hot chips. The truth of it is, there’s no black-and-white answer. A general rule would be to use an oil with little taste and a high smoke point. Unrefined options like olive oil tend to have a low smoke point and will start to expire before your chips have a chance to turn that golden-brown colour you’re after. On the other hand, refined peanut, canola or vegetable oil all have a smoke point at around 180 degrees, making them the perfect choice.
Chef Miller said a good tip is to use old oil. “When oil heats up, it starts to break down and oil that’s slightly broken down actually produces crispier chips than fresh oil,” he said. How crispy a chip turns out is reliant on how well the oil molecules bond with the surface area of the chip and fresher oil tends not to bond as well. There’s a fine line between too old and too new though, “when it starts to smoke, it’s exceeded its use-by.”
At Monta Foods, we aim to provide end-to-end solutions for all your kitchen needs, which is why we offer a range of cooking oils to assist in creating the perfect hot chip.
4 - Twice-fry
Twice-frying is a relatively new term to hit the kitchen scene. Some would argue it’s a method that works, others believe it’s a myth developed to sabotage competitors and confuse people. Is it rubbish? According to Chef Miller, “while the oil temperature at each stage needs to be precise, we get the best results for crispy chips when we twice-fry them.” For stage one, chips need to start at a comparatively low temperature (around 130 Degrees Celsius) and fried for 7-8 minutes or until the potato is cooked through but not coloured. Once these are drained, leave them to cool on a drying rack in a fridge for 8-12 hours. The next stage is where the magic happens. When you’re making chips to order, heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius, drop the chips into the fryer and lift them out only when the surface is crispy and golden brown. You’ll achieve the desirable crispness on the outer and a fully cooked, fluffy centre.
5 - Packaging
It’s the middle of summer and your kitchen is burning through 200 orders on any given Sunday. You’ve tried every trick in the book to keep them crispy but one in 10 customers are still returning their order on the basis of soggy, inedible chips. When they came out of the fryer they were at optimal colour and texture, so you can’t work out what went wrong. “When you put piping-hot chips in a paper bag, with no ventilation or drainage system, those chips will very quickly start to steam themselves with whatever moisture is left over,” Chef Miller explained.
While the fryer draws most of the water content out of a potato (potatoes are generally 80 per cent water), it leaves behind about 20 per cent. So, when you drop a smouldering mound of potato chips into a paper bag and very swiftly seal it up, you’re effectively achieving a steam oven.
Those trendy, four-ply boxes with a lid and convertible sauce holder might look great, but they’re not ideal for keeping your chips fresh off the press. Nor are the tall, cylindrical buckets that trap all the heat beneath the top two inches. “Paper, handheld cones seem to work well because the wider surface area at the opening of the cone allows for better heat dispersion and the paper absorbs a lot of the oil that didn’t make it out of the batch,” Chef Miller said.
Ventilation plays a key role in expelling excess moisture. Just ask McDonald’s, who were hit with a mountain of concerns about the future of crispy fries in the midst of the home delivery boom. Senior vice president and global chief strategy officer for the chain, Lucy Brady spoke to Bloomberg about the growing concerns of the future of crispy fries in their UberEATS orders. “The first thing everyone was concerned about is: Will the fries be hot and fresh?" she said. To combat the challenge, McDonald’s now prepares the item last and is only notified of the order minutes before pickup.
Now that you’re aware of the steps to take to perfect the ideal hot chip, try playing around with your method. “Every fryer, chef, kitchen and potato is different… play around with strategies in your own environment, try different frying times, cut your chips at different thicknesses or soak them for less,” Chef Miller said. He added: “make sure you write your variations down and use it as a guideline to get it right for the future.”