When it comes to chips, fast food establishments do it best. It’s not that they use the freshest potatoes (they don’t), or that they have some secret seasoning (it’s salt), or even the fact that they deep fry (it’s a good tactic, but not necessary). The secret, my friends, is that they’re double cooked.
Potato chips are usually thought of as a lunchtime companion — a crunchy side to your sandwich or wrap — but their time has come to shine as a breakfast star. Think of them as a low-effort breakfast potato, which is the best kind of breakfast potato, especially on those morning where frying something seems impossible.
Most restaurants order their chips frozen, and those chips have already been cooked once. As J. Kenji Lopez-Alt explained to the NPR’s The Salt, the culprit is moisture. You need that second round of cooking to properly dehydrate the potato:
Moisture in the center of the food migrates to the surface after the food cools and the surface gets soggy again. Then you boil off that moisture again on the second fry.
To be clear, I am not suggesting you buy potatoes, french-cut them, and then fry them twice yourself; frying once is annoying enough. I am suggesting you do what the pros do, and buy a bag of frozen chips (get the skinny ones).
Like my good friend Jeffrey Morgenthaler before me, I am also suggesting you fry them in duck fat, because you deserve a bistro-inspired experience, and a fry that can hold its own whether you place it next to a steak or a burger.
Now, I know what you’re thinking (quite indignantly): “That’s a lot of duck fat!” It is if you’re deep frying, but you actually don’t need to deep fry to get crispy blonde bois. A shallow pan fry is more than enough, and all you need for that is a quarter cup of fat. Could you use a different fat? Yes.
You could use beef tallow (for a retro McDonald’s vibe) or you could use peanut oil, vegetable oil, or an other oil with a high smoke point. I use duck fat because it makes the chips crispy, yes, but it also flavours their tender, fluffy insides with rich, smoky duck fat, and that makes me happy. To make yourself happy, if only for a fleeting moment, you will need:
1/4 cup of duck fat
As many chips as you like
Heat the fat over medium-high heat in a large stainless steel or cast iron pan, once it starts to shimmer a little, place a single test fry in the oil. If it immediately starts to sizzle, place as many chips as you can fit in a single layer in the pan. (If not, let the fat heat a little longer before adding the rest of your chips.)
Let the chips sizzle and cook, gently swirling and flipping them with a spatula in the hot fat until they are a pale golden brown — this should take 6-8 minutes. Remove them from the fat with tongs or a slotted spatula, place them on paper towels to drain, and season with salt. Repeat, replacing the fat as needed, until your pile of chips is large enough to satisfy your hunger.