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The great chip race

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The chip parade

The chip parade

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, golden in colour and chunky. We were agreed that these were the quintessential components of the great British chip. But which potato to use? This was the brain-teasing quandary put to me by London’s finest fruit and vegetable supplier last week. Eurofrutta needed answers and only I could provide them.

And so my Heston Blumenthal – style experiment began on Saturday morning, somewhat earlier than planned, as I was awoken by a loud ringing. At first I thought it was my Barbera – induced hangover (the wine had come from Marks and Spencer’s by the way and very nice it was too) but the noise was my doorbell, announcing my alarmingly punctual delivery of potatoes from Eurofrutta.

In my box of delights were seven varieties of potatoes all clearly labelled and beautifully presented. The time had come to learn the truth. And so the test began.

I chose seven different potato varieties and cut them into chunky sizes, placed them in a pan of hot oil one at a time, covered the pan and waited for them to do their thing. I should have probably tested the temperature of the oil first and given each chip the same amount of cooking time but you can’t be too precise about cooking. The important thing was to remember which potato had been used; which were the contenders for the great chip challenge. ESTIMA, MARFONA, KING EDWARD, MARIS PIPER, DESIREE, BINJI, and MARIS BARD all lined up, sizzled away and changed colour.

What surprised me was the difference in colour and texture of each variety. The darker a potato turns when fried the more sugar it contains; the softer it becomes the more water it comprises. Starch turns to sugar in a potato when kept in storage for too long or if held at too cold a temperature – so if the chip goes dark, it’s not suitable for chips.

And the winner was… the Maris Piper. It turned out to be crispy on the outside, soft in the centre and positively glistening gold.

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