Does cooking them twice make perfect homemade chips?
My first attempt resulted in chips that were decent but far from perfect. The ones made of waxy potatoes weren’t crispy and the ones made of floury potatoes were bland. Yet, both had some flavour, so I’ve decided to tackle the missing crispness first. I’m looking for even crisper fries and have learned about a promising method: frying them twice is supposed to take me one step closer to the perfect homemade chips.
Same same but different?
I start off exactly as I did in my last attempt: I cut the potatoes, wash them and dry them. This time, I wash the potato sticks in warm water to get rid of even more starch. This isn’t a major difference to last time, but I want to mention it anyway – every detail could make all the difference in the end. The other ingredients stay the same: I’m using both waxy and starchy potatoes again, as I haven’t decided yet which ones I prefer. The biggest difference to my last attempt is that, after I’ve cut, washed and dried my potato sticks, I’ll cook them twice. First for three minutes at 150 degrees Celsius, then I’ll let them cool down to room temperature and deep-fry them again at 175 degrees Celsius and for four minutes. I’ll use the same frying oil as last time, I cleaned it with a sieve to remove any residue.
What does this do for crispness? What’s the science behind double cooking? As frying oil has a much higher heat capacity than water, it transfers heat directly to the food at temperatures of over 100 degrees – in my case, it transfers it to my potato sticks. As a result, the water in the chips evaporates. In the first deep-frying cycle, a fine crust forms within fractions of a second, which is necessary for the crispness and fat absorption in the second deep-frying cycle. To achieve the idea crust, the chips are deep-fried at a low temperature around 150 degrees Celsius, cooled down and then deep-fried again at around 175 degrees. This ensures that no more water leaves the potato sticks and they reach temperatures of over 100 degrees inside and out. In theory, the fries will then turn out golden yellow and nice and crunchy. That’s what the Federal Centre for Nutrition in this German article.
Two are better than one
So I heat up the deep fryer, prepare the potato sticks and start again with the waxy potatoes, followed by their starchy friends. After the first frying cycle, both varieties are – as expected – neither fully cooked nor crispy. They are soggy, warm and greasy. Therefore, I place them on a grid covered with kitchen paper and let them cool down. After a few hours – coincidentally just before dinner – they’re ready for their second bath. This bath will be hotter and longer. I’m excited as I watch the last seconds pass by on the timer and I am finally allowed to open the lid of the fryer a second time. How did they turn out? How much better are they than when I fried them only once? The tension is almost unbearable. Besides, I'm getting hungry.
The waxy potatoes are lighter in colour than they were in my last attempt when I cooked them only once. That’s easy to spot. The smell of fried food spreads and my mouth is watering, but I need more patience. I pour the fries onto kitchen paper to absorb the oil and I can already hear that they’re crispy. I can't resist, grab one, burn my fingers and mouth, but I am happy. The fries really are much crispier than last time around. They tasted great in my single deep-frying attempt and they’re even tastier now. They’re slightly firmer, but also less creamy on the inside than the first time around, but this doesn't bother me much. They also seem to be greasier. In any case, they’re clearly better and I’m delighted. Yet, I’m sure there’s still room to improve.
I’m not hungry any more after eating the first batch, but I also want to taste the floury double-cooked potato sticks, of course. As in my first attempt, they turn out a lighter colour than the waxy counterpart. Again, I can tell from the very moment I empty them onto the kitchen paper that my chips are crispier than in my first attempt. I take a bite and this impression is confirmed: they’re nice and crisp. Last time around, I missed the taste of potatoes. After double-frying them, they have a more intense flavour, but they’re still not as tasty as the waxy chips. These chips aren’t too greasy and are nice and fluffy inside. Unlike to waxy fries, they’re still crispy and tasty after I’ve left them on a plate for ten minutes. They’re definitely better than in my first attempt. The difference is even larger with the starchy potatoes than with the waxy ones. But I can’t help but feel that they could be even better.
My verdict: better, but not perfect yet
Once again I'm surprised - in a good way. I wouldn't have thought that cooking them twice makes chips so much crispier and tastier. If I was served these in a restaurant, I definitely wouldn’t complain. The only thing is that the waxy chips could be a bit crispier. I liked the starchy ones a lot. However, I admit that I might not say this if I hadn’t seen how the starchy ones turned out when I only fried them once. The improvement is huge and might influence my opinion on the twice-cooked starchy fries. Either way, I’m a perfectionist and know there’s still room for improvement.
So double-frying has worked. It’s made my homemade chips turn out crispier and taste better. But I’ve received a few more promising hints from Community members and I’m going to try gain with a new approach: washing the chips in boiling water before frying them. I’m also considering cooking them once and then putting them in the freezer overnight. Any other ideas? Thanks for sharing your tricks in the comment section. Want to know what else will happen on my quest to find the perfect homemade chips? Follow me by clicking the «Follow author» button on my profile.