How to cook the perfect chicken and chips
Chicken and chips is one of those classic combos that never goes out of fashion. The past few years has seen a big rise in the number of chicken shops, and there are a couple of huge restaurant chains that have brought chicken and chips to the masses. Crisp skin, juicy chicken meat and perfectly cooked chips – feeling hungry yet?
It’s surprisingly easy to recreate chicken and chips at home. Follow our simple instructions and you’ll be wowing friends and family in no time!
First of all, which cut of chicken should you use? I know that white meat is many people’s favourite, but for me it has to be dark, so that’s either drumsticks or thighs, not breast. Dark meat has more flavour than white, and being naturally juicier, is less likely to dry out.
Let’s start by cooking the chicken. Crispy chicken skin is one of the finer things in life, so it’s important to prep it properly. Wet skin struggles to crisp up, so take the chicken out of its packaging and place on a plate in the fridge, uncovered, for a good hour or so to let it dry out. Then take it out of the fridge to bring it up to temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before you cook it.
We’re going to roast our chicken pieces. If you opt for drumsticks or thighs, season them with salt and pepper (and some dried chillis if you want some heat) then sear in a pan with oil or butter to get some decent colour on the outside, then finish in the oven – 40-45 minutes at 190˚C should do the trick.
You can check if they’re done by piercing the meat with a skewer – if the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked. Remember to rest the chicken on a warm plate for 20 minutes, covered with foil. This crucial step ensures the juiciest-possible meat.
A plate of freshly cooked, piping-hot chips is a glorious thing, and there’s no big secret to making them. If you have a deep-fat fryer, then you’ll be able to make the best chips you’ve ever tasted, but shallow-frying or baking deliver tasty results, too.
To start, choose the right type of potato – fluffy varieties like King Edward or Maris Piper are the ones to go for. I leave the skin on, but you can peel if you wish, then cut them to your desired thickness: some prefer fat, chunky chips, while others demand slim-and-trim frites.
Parboil them in water for 4-5 minutes, then drain and dry thoroughly. Many people rush this step, but if you can, let them dry on kitchen paper for 5-10 minutes, allowing the steam to evaporate. Taking the time to get rid of any excess moisture helps to guarantee crispy chips.
Once dry, if you’re deep-frying, the chips need 7-8 minutes at 130˚C, then crank the heat up to 180˚C and give the chips another 5-6 minutes. The first frying cooks the chips through; the second crisps them to perfection.
If you’re short on time, why not go for a quick but tasty alternative? Oven chips are a safe bet, such as Home Chips Lighter from McCain, and are a great idea if you’re trying to reduce your use of butter and oil in the kitchen.
Once the chips are ready and the chicken has rested, it’s time to serve. Garnishes? Well, mayonnaise is an essential in our household, but some ketchup pepped up with chipotle chilli is a great way of spicing things up. Some finely chopped rosemary sprinkled over the chips along with some sea salt is a nice touch, too.
For a luxe dinner-party version, why not roast the whole bird (cook it for 20 minutes at 220˚C, then lower the heat to 190˚C and roast for 20 minutes per 450g), then slather in garlic and herb butter while it’s resting and serve with a platter of fries – your guests will be seriously impressed!
There you have it. Chicken and chips is one of the simplest but tastiest meals going – and now you can create your own version of this restaurant classic. Bon appetit!