From scratch: Find the right potato
As the winner of a national chip competition, it’s little surprise the Crown in Henlow, Buckinghamshire, pulled out all the stops in its quest to find the best potato.
Craig Fox, sous chef at the pub – which has won Best Independent/Restaurant Chips at the Choice Chip Awards for the past two years – says they experimented with a host of different varieties before settling on Corkers.
Fox claims the Corkers potato, which is produced by the crisp makers of the same name, helps them produce a hand-cut chip that is crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.
“We steam the chips before putting them into a low heated fryer for about eight minutes, which acts to seal in the fluffiness. Then, we finish them off in a hot fryer,” he explains.
“We get through about 500kg worth of potatoes a week. Corkers is one of the most expensive varieties around – but sometimes paying that little bit extra is worthwhile.”
From scratch: Cook on demand
When the Angel Inn, in Corbridge, Northumberland, converted one of its outbuildings into a fish and chip shop last year, the business knew it was entering a whole new ballgame.
To help manage throughput, the chip shop uses a chipper to cut the potatoes while sharing a rumbler with the pub’s kitchen.
“On a Friday alone, we can use anything up to 200kg of potatoes, so having a chipper can save a lot of time,” explains Jonathan Dodds, manager of the chip shop.
Using Maris Piper potatoes, the shop blanches its chips at 180°C. The potatoes are then allowed to rest for five to 10 minutes before being dropped into a fryer at the same temperature.
“My top tip would be to try and use your chips as quickly as possible, because the longer they sit in the chip holder, the less tasty they will be,” advises Dodds. “Despite our quantities, we try to cook on demand whenever possible.”
From scratch: Keep the oil clean
Situated in the Kent village of Lower Halstow, the Three Tuns is happy to switch between two varieties of potato as and when they are available.
The pub – which won Best Independent/Restaurant Chips at the Choice Chip Awards in 2012 – uses both Maris Piper and Jelly potatoes to produce a variety of dishes, including fish and chips, fillet steak and chips, and ham, egg and chips.
Head chef Dean Law says the pub uses around 250kg of potatoes per week, and last summer it invested in a rumbler to keep up with demand.
“We were getting through so many chips that we couldn’t justify not having one,” he explains. “With the amount of labour we’re saving, we’ll probably get our money back in two years.”
According to Law, the chips are chilled before cooking, which helps them to draw in water and draw some of the starch out. They are then blanched on a low heat for about 10 minutes, before being cooled again in the fridge and, finally, fried. “I always like to make sure the oil we use in the fryers is clean, because it helps to keep the chips golden. Also, for a nice final touch, we add Malden sea salt,” he explains.
From batch: the full crunch
Aviko has recently added two Supercrunch chip products to its Premium Fries range.
Sold in 15mm and 9.5mm Skin-On varieties, the range is aimed at giving more variety to operators who want to serve chips with home-made appeal.
Mohammed Essa, UK & Ireland general manager at Aviko, says: “When you consider there were a staggering 1.65 billion potato servings out-of-home in the year ending June 2014 – that equates to 4.5 million servings each day – it’s extremely important for pubs to get their chip offering right.”
The chips have been given a new coating designed to create a crispier, crunchy texture as well as offering the benefit of holding heat for up to 15 minutes.
The range has a shelf-life of up to 18 months, which may appeal to operators who want to minimise food wastage and maximise profits.
From batch: Going for gluten-free
JJ Foodservice has launched a range of gluten-free Super Crisp chips, aimed at responding to the growing number of customers with gluten-free or specialist diets.
The Super Crisp Chunky Cut variant was developed with pubs and restaurants in mind and is the biggest chip offered by the wholesaler, measuring in at 19mm by 19mm.
“We think it’s the perfect partner to a steak or gourmet burger,” says Sue Guilfoyle, national account manager at JJ Foodservice.
“It’s all part of our vision to become a one-stop shop for pubs and restaurants.”
From batch: Under the pressure
As the line between “traditional” drinking pubs and “posh” restaurants blurs, licensees are facing more and more pressure to serve the highest quality chips possible, advises Nic Townsend, marketing manager at Farm Frites.
“These days, lower cost value products such as chips and potatoes, as well as tea and coffee, can make the difference between what is perceived as a good meal or a bad one and can leave a lasting impression on customers – pub chefs also have to play a part in making sure preparation and holding time is managed correctly.”
Farm Frites portfolio of products includes 7mm, 12mm, 15mm, 18mm, steak, crinkle, irregular, skin-on, fast fry and oven baked varieties, aimed at offering pubs greater choice when it comes to choosing their chips.