Heston’s Triple Cooked Chips
Like many things, the chip has taken a trip upmarket recently, most famously with Heston’s triple cooked chips. As part of National Chip Week, Helen went to learn the secrets from Ashley Palmer-Watts, current executive chef at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
The perfect chip
Unsurprisingly, a Michelin starred chip is not the work of a moment, especially a Heston chip! The perfect chip will be light and fluffy on the inside, and crisp but not leathery on the outside.
First you take your potato - but it can’t be just any potato. At Dinner, the variety used changes through the year depending on the percentage of dry matter in the potato: the optimum is 21 - 23% - drier potatoes are more like to break. Finding the optimum was the result of a lot of trial and error, and presumably resulted in many chips which were not up to scratch.
At the moment the potatoes used are Agria, but depending on the season can be Maris Piper, Fontaine or Maris Bard. (I am amused by the fact that Heston’s potato supplier is a Mr Martin Mash - there’s a case of nominative determinism). Mr Mash has the reputation for supplying the best chip potatoes.
First Cook - The Simmer
The potatoes are peeled, cut into 16mm x 16mm chips and rinsed until the rinsing water runs clear, to wash the starch off.
The chips are added to cold water and brought up to a very gentle simmer. If you added the chips to hot water the outside would cook first; with cold water the chip and the water heat up and cook at the same rate. Similarly, it’s a gentle simmer rather than a faster boil because, if boiled the outside will cook first. The level of salt is important; it gives texture to chips but too much gives them a tough crust. Gently turn the chips around in the water to avoid hot spots.
The chips are simmered until they are almost breaking apart - the advice is to go to where you think they need and then a little more. They should be cracking and pitted - almost looking like weathered limestone.
Interestingly Heston’s mashed potatoes are packed in a sous vide pouch and cooked at 72C for 30 minutes rather than being simmered.
The carefully drained chips are then chilled and dried - two passes through the vac pac machine, or into a freezer or blast chiller.
Second Cook - The first fry
The first fry is carried out at 130C, and will give the chip a light golden skin. Frying is done in small batches, if you overload the fryer the temperature will dip. Of course Heston’s fryers are high tech and have a turbo recovery system!
After the first fry the chips are sent back to the freezer, fridge or vac packed.
Heston’s chips are cooked in a mixture of 70% vegetable oil and 30% rendered fat. Other fat experiments have been 100% Wagyu beef fat, with the best being an unsustainable and unaffordable veal kidney fat.
Third Cook - The Second Fry
The twice cooked chips are then returned to the fryer for 4 to 8 minutes; depending on the variety (test fries are carried out every day, and timings adjusted) at 180C.
And there you have it, chip perfection, golden with a crispy skin and fluffy inside. With 3500 to 4000 portions being sold every month it is a winning formula.
Inspired? There’s a whole collection of chip recipes from some of Britain’s finest chefs over at Great British Chefs. What are your secrets for the perfect chip? Do you use a particular type of potato? What about the fat or oil? Have you ever triple cooked chips yourself? Let us know here or over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.