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FAMILY HEIRLOOM

What’s cooking today: Granny Betty’s air fryer chips

What’s cooking today: Granny Betty’s air fryer chips
Tony Jackman’s air fryer chips, adapted from Betty Jackman’s famous family recipe. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

In which I adapt my mother’s unbeatable chips recipe for a machine invented after her time.

My mom’s chips have never been beaten for me anywhere, any time, and if you’d care to argue with that, her granddaughter Rebecca will be quick to set you right. Seeing as how I’ve been making them granny’s way all her life. In fact, I’ve been making them to mom’s recipe since I was a young teenager.

There are some very specific steps. This week I stared at my air fryer for some time while thinking about how I could adapt her recipe for this modern beast. What would mom have done?

Well. The result, I am thrilled to be able to relate, was chips that were just as good as hers ever were. And possibly even just a teeny bit better.

There are rules. Chips must be dry before going into any hot fat. The oil must be around 160℃ before the raw potato chips go in. The chips must go into the fat, in a wire basket, all at once, and while the basket is submerging into the oil it must be rolled this way and that, gently, for the chips to be coated and separate; they loosen and float, preventing clumping. Then the pan and basket must not be touched for several minutes, until the chips have begun to firm up. Then, when firmer and taking on colour, the basket must be shaken vigorously but quickly, the heat turned down slightly, and they’re left to cook gently at a steady but rather mild bubble until they have become soft inside and golden and crispy outside.

Some of this has to change when cooking chips in an air fryer, but there are several of Granny Betty’s essential steps that should still be followed.

Air fryers do not get filled with hot oil. (Do not try it: there will be a great mess and most likely a fire. Note that air fryers are potentially dangerous. So always follow a recipe unless you really do know the machine well.) The temperature is set before the chips go in, and the air fryer must be preheated to that temperature. The raw chips need to be coated in oil before being cooked.

But mom’s basic steps do come into play, and this is what I am sure she would have done had air fryers been around in her day.

Ingredients

As many potatoes as you need, peeled, rinsed and patted dry

Canola oil (or sunflower), just enough to coat

Salt

Method

Peel, rinse and dry the potatoes. Cut them lengthwise into long, fairly thin chips. Don’t make them too chunky.

Lay out kitchen paper on a dry surface. Lay the chips out in rows, with a little space between them. Lay the same quantity of paper towel over the top and press down all over with your palms. Leave them alone for 10 minutes or more to dry further. This might all seem pedantic and unnecessary but it makes the difference to the end result. (My mom used to use two kitchen towels; you can do that if you prefer,)

If cooking them in oil you would have preheated the oil by now, tested for temperature by dipping a chip into the hot oil, and got on with cooking them.

But to switch the recipe to an air fryer, here’s what we do next.

Place the dried, raw potato chips in a big enough bowl, salt lightly, and pour in a little oil. Shake and toss until every chip is coated in oil; if not enough, add a little more.

Before you ask, no, it is not enough just to spray them with olive oil spray. And anyway, olive oil is not right for chips. You need canola or sunflower.

Meanwhile, preheat the air fryer to 160℃. Place the raw chips in the basket (if a large quantity, split them into batches) and shake the basket vigorously so that they’re not too snug. (This replicates the conventional step where you roll the basket while submerging into hot oil.)

Cook for 10 minutes, pause, shake the basket.

Cook for another 10 minutes, pause, shake the basket.

Increase the temperature to 200℃.

Cook for a final 10 minutes, pausing after 5 minutes to shake the basket.

Salt and serve. Or just eat the lot in the kitchen and make a new batch for the family. DM/TGIFood

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

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