Sunday, September 30, 2012
You may have seen, in the first episode of Nigellissima! on Monday night (24 September), that Nigella Lawson cooked her chips by immersing them in cold oil, and then heating them. It seems eccentric, but really is based on the same theory that informs the double- and triple-cooking methods: boiling the chips first in moderately hot oil or water, before browning them at high heat.
I usually adopt a method half way between single- and double-cooking: starting the potatoes in moderately hot oil, and then simply turning up the heat. It works fine. Would Nigella’s method – I have met her a few times, but somehow wouldn’t feel presumptuous in using her first name even if I hadn’t, as one doesn’t with Delia or Jamie – work just as well? Or would it work only for the waxy potatoes she specifies at the BBC website, and not for the Maris Pipers I used?
I didn’t bother about chopping off the rounded ends of the potatoes. I sliced them horizontally – they were of medium size – before chipping them, and placing them in a pan of sunflower oil. I put the pan on a back, medium ring of my hob, and set the flame at medium to high.
Perhaps because I was cooking only a single, albeit generous, portion, I found that the oil was soon bubbling. At this point, I lost my nerve, and turned down the flame to low for about seven minutes, to allow the potatoes to cook through. Then I turned up the flame again, to brown them. I stirred them, carefully, from time to time. The entire process took about 20 minutes.
In the end, this technique differed only slightly from my usual one. It works so well that I would never be tempted to go through the much more laborious triple method, for what could be, at best, only a marginal improvement.
Nigella’s Tuscan fries
Sceptical Cook: Chips