Hand Cut Chips (every single one. Always)
From day 1 we were always going to cut our chips by hand, there was never any debate about it. A frozen chip is an impostor chip.
Every day we receive sack upon sack of potatoes delivered to each Arlo’s restaurant with the potatoes covered in the mud in which they were grown. We sort the bags, we sort the potatoes in fact, looking for soft or green potatoes or simply those that are not yet right, ripe and 100% ready.
This is no wonky or misshapen veg witch hunt. These are often the very best spuds of all, their crevices and cracks and undulations giving little pockets for the hot rapeseed oil to bubble into, this crispy crunch contrasting with the fluffy inside.
We tried dozen upon dozens of varieties of chips in just as many varieties of oil. We tried lots of different temperatures, we tried re-frying from cold, from frozen and from somewhere in between. We tried cooking with the skin on and skin off, we tried single cooked, double-cooked, treble-cooked and even-more-cooked. We tried shoestring fries, skinny chips, thick cut chips and crinkle cut chips.
The goal was always a crispy, crunchy and crackling outside with a hot and fluffy middle.
The simple fact is that potatoes change. They change with the soil and with the seasons and with the temperatures and with the weather. To get the super fluffy middle you need a dry chip or the water inside will just steam and go soggy. To get the perfect crunchy outside you need a balance of starch and natural sugars – but not too much or it will burn. The perfect chip is a comma not a full stop – it is a never-ending, though happily delicious, process.
When we launched Arlo’s in Balham in 2016 we thought we’d perfected the perfect chip. Thin but not shoestring fries, thick but not potato wedges. In 2017 we washed, rumbled, hand-chipped, par-boiled, blast-chilled, refreshed, fried and served an average of 2,457 chips every day. Nearly 750,000 potatoes – and each one chipped on site by hand.
We’re more than a little obsessed with our hand cut chips, and always will be. Always fresh – never frozen.