I was recently asked by a journalist whether the widespread desire to offer ‘healthy food’ by cost sector kitchens has rung the death knell for everyone’s favourite – the ultimate comfort food – the chip!
My thoughts on the subject are that whereas a few years ago commercial fryers were starting to be left out of new cost sector kitchens and refits, they’re now beginning to make a comeback.
I think that’s because there’s a greater understanding that what counts, when it comes to healthy eating, is a balanced diet. And fried foods can form part of that healthy eating programme.
It’s true too, especially in healthcare settings, that ‘a bit of what you fancy does you good’. Good nutrition is essential to recovery and, if you can tempt patients to eat with well cooked, familiar food then there are real benefits to be had at every level.
People are also beginning to adopt healthier frying methods. The traditional way to cook chips for example would be to blanch them in the fryer at the relatively low temperature of 160 deg C before chilling them down and storing them until needed. Then the chips would be fried again at a higher temperature prior to service.
Now, many chefs are choosing to steam their chips prior to frying. This allows the chips to be fried just once, in hotter oil. This reduces the quantity of oil which is absorbed by the potato and therefore produces a healthier, less fatty chip.
In order to prepare chips in this way you need to invest in a powerful fryer, which is capable of achieving the high temperature you need (180 deg C) when fully loaded.
This will seal the surface of the potato and allow the interior to be ‘steamed’. Here are one or two other ways to produce ‘healthier’ chips:
- Serve large, fat chips rather than thin ones. This will reduce fat absorption.
- Allow chips and other fried products to drain prior to serving – choose a fryer therefore which has sturdy, free-draining frying baskets.
- Consider using a chip scuttle to hold fried food for a short time prior to serving. This will allow excess fat to drain away.
- Always use good quality vegetable oil and filter frequently.
- Make sure that your fryer is powerful enough to meet your needs. Fast heat recovery times are essential. If a fryer is unable achieve the optimum chip cooking temperature quickly, the chances are that the cooking process will be extended with the result that the chips will absorb more fat.
- Buy a fryer which is big enough for your business. If your fryer is too small, the temptation is to overload the basket, which will result in extended cooking times and greater fat absorption.
- Buy a well designed and constructed fryer from a reputable manufacturer. Good manufacturers will provide accurate information about optimum batch sizes, capacities, recovery times and overall performance.
In addition to concerns about health and nutrition, cost sector caterers are also worried about the rising cost of food and are aware of the need to reduce waste and minimise their impact on the environment. Extending the life of cooking oil is one of the key ways in which this can be achieved. As a result, fryers such as our Opus 700 models with built-in filtration, which are designed to extend the life of cooking oil by up to 75%, are proving popular at this time.
- busyCHEF Blog