Out of the frying pan and into the fryer
Call me naive but when I first saw the term ‘twice cooked’ on a menu, I thought to myself “OK, they’ve probably got an apprentice chef, and he didn’t get the chips right on the first go”. I admired the pub’s candour and when the chips arrived, they were really scrummy so all was well.
But then, on another menu in another pub, I saw the term ‘thrice cooked’! Now, while I could not but applaud the use of the word “thrice” which, let’s face it, is verging on the archaic nowadays, I thought to myself “Oh come on! Why not just admit defeat and go back to the drawing board?” but I thought I’d risk it and again, when the chips arrived they were everything chips should be, which just goes to demonstrate; “if at first you don’t succeed . .”
But then, for my birthday, Suze bought me a deep fryer; not primarily for chips I hasten to say, but more for occasional Mediterranean treats such as calamari, arancini and sage leaves fried in a prosecco batter, all consumed on our back patio when the late afternoon sun illumines our glasses of Camparisoda (when summer eventually deigns to arrive). But really, if one has a deep fryer, one is going to do chips sooner or later so when the machine arrived I looked online to see how one goes about it (until last week I had never cooked chips before, other than the flat, shallow fried version).
It’s a bit of a process; first you parboil the peeled and chopped potatoes, then you pat them dry and deep fry them for a bit before lifting them out and cranking-up the oil temperature, then you put ’em in again for maybe a minute, and then serve, hoping the ribeyes haven’t turned to cardboard in the meantime.
And that, I now realise, is what pubs mean when they say ‘twice (or thrice) cooked’ on their menus. Technically true, I suppose, in that the potatoes have been subjected to three phases of ‘cooking’ (parboiling, medium temperature frying and then a noisy, nervous minute at 190ºC) but really, why make such a song and dance about it? They’re just chips. Perhaps when we next serve baked beans to our Airbnb guests as part of their full English, I should point out that our supplier, after carefully baking the haricot beans, immures them in a rich tomato-based salsa and lagers them in hermetically sealed containers, and that it is only in the few minutes prior to consumption that the container is broached with the beans and sauce being carefully heated before being spooned over slices of buttered toast sliced from a freshly baked loaf.
But I think all chefs should bear in mind that any pudding can be over-egged.
Please ‘like’ this (if you like it and you’d like to) – it’s the little ‘heart’ symbol at the top of this post. If you don’t see the little heart symbol, just click on the heading, it takes you to the Geoff’s Joust website where you can like the post, and where previous jousts can be read and laughed at. It would also be great if you could share it.