I have been looking forward to this column. Chips, glorious chips. One of my all-time favourites, a great British food and one of the few things (apart from a cigarette) I can't go without for any length of time. And for my North American readers, I don't mean crisps. Crisps are those salty things you get in a bag.
No, I am talking chips that go with fish, on your plate or wrapped in paper for a takeaway. My continental European readers will know them as pommes frites, but these are a totally different breed, a much more down-to-earth version, with more flesh on them, rather like a good Yorkshire lass compared to a scrawny Parisienne.
There is something extremely impressive about home-made chips. I guess in part because buying a bag of frozen ones to pop in the oven is so easy. Whenever you make the effort to knock up some chips at home you get the kind of adulation normally reserved for home-made pasta or home-made bread. Chips are much easier than either of those, and you don't even need a deep fryer as suggested in the recipe, so don't be put off by that. A friend of mine fries them in a wok and they are just as tasty. Just don't overcrowd them; they need their space, so to do them in several batches.
And this being The Green Issue, you could of course buy organic potatoes. Regardless, bring your own reusable bag to the market; it's not that difficult to start "going green".
Several years ago there was a rumour about me in the press that I would personally cut and fry customers' chips for them and then charge them 25 quid for the privilege. That was back in the days when 25 quid was a lot of money. Even so, I'd say that was cheap at the price. A hand-cut and lovingly fried chip is priceless, as you will find when you make them. You won't ever go back to shop-bought chips after this, I guarantee it, and why should you? There's nothing to chips - just get the kids to peel the spuds and off you go. But make sure they're out of the way when the oil starts bubbling. And back in good time to enjoy the first bite.
Make it yourself
8 large Russet potatoes
Oil, for frying
Salt to taste
1. Peel and cut the Russet potatoes into 1cm x 1cm x 8cm-sized chips. Rinse the cut potatoes under cold running water to remove any excess starch.
2. Place the chips into a large pot of cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook the chips until they are tender but not falling apart. Carefully remove the chips from the water with a slotted spoon, ensuring they do not break apart, and place on a tray and then into the refrigerator to cool.
3. Once the chips have cooled, cook them again in a deep fryer set to 135°C. Cook the chips in the oil for six to eight minutes or just until starting to colour. Remove the chips from the fryer and place on a tray lined with kitchen paper and cool in the refrigerator. At this point the chips can be stored in the fridge for one or two days until needed.
4. To finish the chips turn the deep fryer up to 180°C. Cook the chips in the oil for three to four minutes until they are golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and season with salt.