We are great fans of chips in this house. When we lived up North in Chester, we often walked down to the local chippie in the evening and shared a cone of chips together . . . hand cut and chunky, crisply fried and then doused in salt and vinegar. Tis a wonderful treat on a warm summer's evening.
The best chips I have had over here were some we treated ourselves to one hot summer's afternoon when we were visiting Liverpool. We bought them from a chippie in the downtown shopping area. Oh, my but they were lovely . . . it is now some 7 years later, I am still thinking about them . . .
Of course a trip to the seaside would not be complete without fish and chips, and whenever we go, we are obliged to partake of at least one batch, not to mention a couple of icecreams . . .
At home though, I usually use oven chips. It's usually too much trouble to take out the deep fat fryer and, with the hours I work during the week, I am usually rushed for time. I generally like to make my own oven chips though, by cutting baking potatoes into large chunky strips. I never peel, as we both love the extra flavour and texture that the peels give, but you can peel if you wish. I then toss them with a bit of olive oil and some herbs and garlic, and bake them in a hot oven until crisp and lightly browned. I sometimes do a mix of sweet potatoes as well as the regular ones. These are particularly good.
Sometimes too, when I am in a particular rush, I will opt for a good oven chip. We like the McCains rustic ones . . . because they still have the skins on and they are lower in fat.
I love to spice my chips with all sorts of things. Sometimes I will use a mixture of garlic, onion salt, pepper, paprika and herbs. Other times I will make an italian version that I create by tossing them with pepper and a commercial Italian spice mix, which contains garlic and peppers and herbs.
My favourite ones of all though . . . are the ones I make using my own homemade harissa paste. Oh, they are wonderfully spicy and tasty!!! You can make them as hot or as mild as you like. I never add any extra oil to them, but if you are using a lesser amount of the harissa paste you may want to add a touch of oil.
Of course you can choose to use a commercially prepared Harissa paste, and they will also be good, but it's fun to make your own. Just be a bit careful though, as the chilies can burn the skin and also the nasal passages if you breath in some of the dust from them. Keep a window open and wear gloves if you can.
These are wonderfully delicious served hot and crisp, with a tasty sour cream and lime dip on the side.
But don't take my word for it. Try making them for yourself. I think you'll find them very, very moreish in a scrummy sort of way . . .
*Harissa Spiced Chips*
A tasty oven chip, chunky and crisp and tastily spiced with a homemade harissa paste. You may want to make the harissa paste the day before. You can use a commercially prepared harissa paste if you wish, but I like to make my own. It makes more than you need, but it stores well and comes in handy for lots of things.
6 large baking potatoes, peeled or not as you like, and
cut into chunky sized chips
(you can use one 907g bake of oven chips if you like)
For the paste:
4 ounces dried hot red chili peppers
2 tsp sea salt
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tsp freshly ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black cumin seeds
2 tsp freshly ground caraway seeds
1 skinned, deseeded and chopped red pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp tomato puree
the juice and zest of 1/2 a lime
1/2 of a preserved lemon (optional)
olive oil to cover
8 ounces of dairy sour cream
the juice and zest of half a lime
First make the Harissa paste. Place the dried chilies in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, cover and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for one hour. At the end of the hour, drain them well and place them into a food processor along with the salt, garlic, cumin, black cumin, caraway, red pepper, paprika, vinegar, tomato puree, the preserved lemon, if using, and the juice and zest of the lime. Blend to a smooth paste. Scrape into a jar and cover with some olive oil, to help protect it from the air. Cover and chill until you are ready to use.
When you are ready to make your chips, preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Place the chipped potatoes into a large shallow roasting tin. Toss with 2 TBS of the prepared Harissa paste to cover and then place them into the heated oven.
Roast, stirring every once in a while, for about 20 to 25 minutes, until nicely crisped on the outside and tender on the inside. Remove from the oven and serve hot with your choice of dip.
If you choose to use oven chips the proceedure is much the same, except you toss the bag of oven chips with the harissa paste to coat lightly and bake as per the package instructions.
While the chips are baking, whisk together the sour cream and the lime juice and zest. Serve the hot chips with the sour cream mixture for dipping. Delicious!