Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Shoestring Chips

Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Shoestring Chips
Shoestring chips, before and after. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

No, not chips on a shoestring budget. These potato chips, roughly the width of standard shoelaces, are super crunchy and madly moreish.

I learnt to make chips at my mother’s knee and I find that chips made to her recipe are almost invariably the best. Today they’re what my daughter calls “dad’s chips”, but in fact it’s Betty Jackman’s method. The secret is a few basic, practical steps.

We make three kinds of potato chips in our household: regular, shoestring, and scallops.

There are some simple but essential rules to making chips, whether they are standard in width and length, super-slim like these shoestring ones, or perfect pommes frites the way the Belgians make them, to be dipped into homemade mayonnaise. Scallops – rounds of potato about 0.5 cm thick – are cooked in the same way as regular chips, in a chip masket. Alternatively, scallops can be parboiled, patted dry, and then fried in shallow oil or oil and butter until golden on both sides, turning once.


Medium potatoes

Cooking oil

(Quantities according to your needs.)

Method for all kinds of chips (note the variations in italics for shoestring ones):

  1. Have a colander double-lined with kitchen paper to hand.
  2. Peel potatoes and use a sharp knife to cut them carefully into chips to your preferred size, or into scallops, or, for shoestring chips, about the width of a shoelace.
  3. The chips must be patted dry after being cut. Use kitchen paper.
  4. Cook chips in batches. If there are too many there might not be enough space for the hot oil to circulate.
  5. For larger chips, they should be in a chip basket. For these shoestring chips, you don’t need a basket (they’ll slip through) but you will need a slotted spoon to remove them when done.
  6. The oil must be preheated to 160℃. I don’t own a thermometer, but the practised eye can assess when the oil is roughly at this temperature. (See point 8 for how to achieve this.)
  7. Test the oil temperature just before immersing the chips. When one end of a clean, dry chip is dipped into the hot oil, fine bubbles should flee from the chip in all directions. If the bubbles are too big it’s too hot, if they’re hardly there at all it’s not at the right temperature yet. The bubbles should be more like those in fine champagne than bubbles in a boiling kettle.
  8. When you’re satisfied the temperature is right, turn the heat down a little to stop it from increasing heat. Too high a heat and your chips will be too dark outside and undercooked within.
  9. As soon as the chips go into the hot oil, give the basket a vigorous shake. This prevents the chips from sticking to each other. If they’ve gone into the pot without a basket, immediately use a wooden spoon to move them around, for the same reason.
  10. Do not touch them for several minutes; if you do you may cause some to break.
  11. When they are half-cooked – you’ll have to gauge with your eye – shake the pan/ toss them around.
  12. Watch carefully for the perfect pale gold. Not too dark. Remove immediately to the paper-lined colander.
  13. Salt, shake the colander, and serve. DM/TGIFood

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Send your Lockdown Recipes to [email protected] with a hi-resolution horizontal (landscape) photo.

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