How to Make Perfect Homemade Chips or French Fries

by Gordon_Hamilton

Chips or French fries in theory are simply potatoes sliced, chopped and deep fried. This page shows, however, how to perfectly achieve that external crunch and internal fluffiness.

The humble little Belgian creation that is the French fry is known and revered around the world, perhaps most frequently in modern times as the renowned accompaniment to burgers from any one of a number of fast food chain restaurants. In the United Kingdom - and some other English speaking countries - the local equivalent of the French fry is the chip. There is in theory little difference between chips and French fries, other than the notable fact that chips are usually considerably bigger in size. This means that the methods used on this page apply equally to chips and French fries, with only the cooking time requiring to be slightly altered.

Perfect Homemade Chips

The ideal accompaniment to many dinners or delicious eaten on their own
Perfect homemade chips
Perfect homemade chips

Choosing the Right Type of Potato for Making Chips or French Fries

Do not ignore the importance of this vital first step

It stands to reason that the first step in any food recipe is choosing the correct ingredients. Simple chips and French fries are no different in the sense that not every type of potato is suited to being cooked in this fashion.

Large starchy/floury potatoes make the best chips or French fries
Large starchy/floury potatoes make th...

The varieties of potato available will of course vary hugely by geographical location but the simple key to choosing the right type of potato for chips or French fries is in ensuring that you pick a floury/starchy variety. Potatoes labelled as baking potatoes in supermarkets are an excellent choice. If in doubt, do not hesitate to ask your grocer or a supermarket assistant for advice, as waxy potatoes will not make good (or even edible) chips or French fries. Experimentation with the different varieties available in your area will ultimately produce the best results.

Perfect Chips or French Fries are Made in Three Stages

The result is more than worth the time and effort

It was British experimental chef, Heston Blumenthal, who introduced and popularised this concept of making chips in three stages, to ensure that they are as crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside as possible. Blumenthal combines scientific experimentation with recipe creation to the most magnificent effect and his restaurant, The Fat Duck, has more than once been afforded the status of being second best in the world. Hopefully, you will at least give this procedure a go before dismissing it as not worth the lengthy preparation time and taste the incredible difference for yourself.

Chips are parboiled in water
Chips are parboiled in water
Chips are parboiled in a wire basket in water
Chips are parboiled in a wire basket ...
The wire basket is simply lifted from the water to drain the chips
The wire basket is simply lifted from...
The parboiled chips are added to a plastic dish and refrigerated
The parboiled chips are added to a pl...

The Chip or French Fry Shaped Potatoes are Firstly Parboiled

This begins the cooking process

It is clearly necessary in the first instance to peel, slice and chop the potato in to chip or French fry sized fingers. When you have done that, the potato pieces should be added to a pot of cold water. It is a really good idea at this stage - especially if preparing small French fries - to place a wire, deep frying basket in the pot before adding the potatoes. The reason for this will become clear when you reach the stage of draining the potatoes. Simply lifting the basket out of the pot to do so eliminates the risk of the potatoes breaking if they are strained through a colander.

There is no requirement to salt the water, simply ensure that there is enough in the pot to comfortably cover all the chips. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water boils. Reduce the heat at this stage to achieve a gentle simmer. Simmer for five minutes for French fries or seven to eight for larger chips.

Take the pot to the sink and simply lift out the wire basket before pouring out the boiling water. Refill the pot with cold water and put the basket back in. This cools the potatoes more quickly and helps prevent them turning black. Allow a few minutes only in the cold water, or the potatoes will soak it up and be mushy.

Drain the potatoes as before by lifting the wire basket out of the pot at the sink. Hold it over the sink for a couple of minutes to let as much of the water drain off as possible. Very carefully, place the chips in to a large plastic container. If possible, try to arrange them in a single layer. Put the dish in to the refrigerator for a minimum of half an hour.

Note that the potatoes can be left in this way for up to a couple of hours but don't be tempted to leave them longer than this, especially not overnight.

Do You Have a Wire Basket for Making Chips or French Fries?

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Once fried chips are drained on kitchen paper
Once fried chips are drained on kitch...
Chips are covered and left to cool
Chips are covered and left to cool

Frying the Chips for the First Time

This essentially fully cooks the potatoes

When the chips are suitably chilled, it is time to fry them for the first time. This is done in a deep fryer at 300F/150C. Note: Although traditionally, chips were made by frying them in beef fat, vegetable oil has been used here on health grounds, as a means of reducing the unfortunately high levels of saturated fat.

Add the chips or French fries to your deep fryer basket and cook for five minutes in the case of chips, or four minutes in the case of French fries. Remove to a plate laid with kitchen paper, cover and allow to cool completely. They are then returned to the (dried) plastic dish and the refrigerator for a further minimum half hour.

If you don't have a deep fryer, or yours is simply getting to the stage of being past its best, you may wish to take a look at some of the offers currently available on Amazon, as featured below.

Secura 4.2L/17-Cup 1700-Watt Stainless-Steel Triple-Basket Electric Deep Fryer

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The Final Frying and Serving of the Chips or French Fries

Hopefully, you will agree that the wait has been more than worth it!

When the chips or French fries have been chilled for a second time, it remains only to afford them a second frying and serve them with any of the many possible accompaniments of choice. Fry them this time at 350F/170C for about seven minutes for chips or five minutes for French fries, dependant simply upon how golden you wish them to be.

Drain again on kitchen paper, serve and enjoy!

The twice fried chips are drained on kitchen paper prior to service
The twice fried chips are drained on kitchen paper prior to service
Updated: 10/12/2012, Gordon_Hamilton
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Gordon_Hamilton on 11/06/2011

Thank you, Digby. I'm glad this page cleared up the mystery for you. The use of the basket is something I first did as an experiment and found it is very helpful, especially when making the smaller French fries. I definitely recommend it.

Digby_Adams on 11/06/2011

Now I understand the menu term "fish and chips" that in my mind was always "fish and friench fries." Thank you for the very clear and interesting lesson on how to make french fries and the equipment that I'll need. I don't have a fry basket and perhaps it would make my life easier.

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