Ultimate British Chip Butty
Chips as they are known in the UK or fries as they are known in the US are always good and they go with everything. Can you think of a meal that wouldn’t be better with a few fries on the side? No, nor can I! Think of Britain and what comes to mind – ah yes of course, fish and chips! That is probably the most famous British dish. But have you heard of chip butties? They are just as well-loved. A ‘butty’ is an English term for a sandwich on buttered bread. Chip butties originated in Liverpool and are typical in the north of the UK, but these days you’ll find them as a staple in pubs all over Britain.
Other names for the chip butty include chip sandwich, chip barm, chip cob, chip roll, chip batch, or even chip muffin, and ‘butty’ is a contraction of ‘bread and butter’ which are the two key ingredients. This used to be a working class lunch or dinner (bread and potatoes are very cheap) but these days it’s more of a snack. Even if you are somewhere they don’t sell chip butties, get some chips or fries, ask for some bread, and make your own!
Wander into a bar in the US and you will probably not have much luck ordering a chip butty, although Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh is famous for their sandwiches with fries (and will add fries to every sandwich unless you say not to) and Burger King made a version of the chip butty for a short while. The traditional way of enjoying a chip butty is to use soft white baps (buns) and toss the finished chips in plenty of salt. Then you can layer them in the buttered bread and add some ketchup or mayo on top, and maybe even a little malt vinegar (the dark kind not the light one) for that perfect British taste!
- 2 medium potatoes (something good for frying like Maris Piper, Desiree or Russet Burbank)
- Fat, for deep-frying (corn oil, sunflower oil or even beef dripping)
- 4 white baps (soft white buns) or 4 thick white bread slices
- 4 tablespoons salted butter (at room temperature so it spreads)
- Salt, to taste
- Malt vinegar
- Peel the potatoes and cut off the sides so you have rectangular shapes about the same size.
- Now cut them into equal-size chips (fries).
- Rinse them in cold water to get any excess starch off.
- Roll the chips in a clean tea towel to dry them.
- Spread the chips over a tray and chill them for half an hour in the fridge to get them really dry.
- Heat the oil to 135 degrees C (260 degrees F) in a deep fryer.
- Add some of the chips and hold the temperature around 130 degrees C (255 degrees F) for 3 minutes.
- This sets the starchy exterior (so your chips will come out crunchier).
- Repeat with the rest of the chips.
- Shake them dry and drain on kitchen roll (paper towels).
- Bring the oil up to 195 degrees C (390 degrees F).
- Meanwhile you can butter your baps or bread slices.
- When the oil is hot enough, drop in a handful of the chips and let the oil bubble up and recede.
- Keep the temperature around 193 degrees C (380 degrees F) for 7 minutes.
- When the chips look done, take one out and cut it in half to double-check.
- Lift them out of the oil and sprinkle with plenty of salt.
- Toss the chips to distribute the salt and let any excess oil drip off.
- Repeat with the rest of the chips until they're all cooked.
- Now you can arrange the chips in layers across the bread.
- Some people like to sprinkle malt vinegar on top, while others might like to add some mayo or ketchup on top of the chips.
- Serve 2 chip butties to each person.
If you’ve never tried a chip butty before, at least you can imagine what it tastes like. You will know how white bread tastes and you will also know how thick chips (steak fries) taste. So now you can combine these two sinfully carb-rich goodies in your mind, and imagine how the softness of the buttered bread, the hot salty chips and perhaps some ketchup or mayo will come together in each wonderful mouthful. This is such an easy dish to make and you could even try it in a restaurant. Just make sure you order steak fries and ask for some bread on the side. Of course the best chip butty is the homemade version though!
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