Belgium is one of the most overlooked countries in Europe: despite its glorious cities and famous writers (Tintin’s Herge or Georges Simenon, the creator of Jules Maigret), most people simply know it as the geographical home of the European Parliament, and in the UK that’s not really seen as a Good Thing.
The most important invention of the Belgian gastronomy, however, has made a much bigger impact on our everyday lives than many a Brussels directive: chips, fries, even (God forbid!) French fries, which according to many (Belgian) sources, are a Belgian invention that has clearly taken the world in a storm.
Although there are many (non-Belgians) who might dispute this theory, What makes this claim so convincing is the fact the instructions for Belgian chips, as laid out by the website belgianfries.com, are so incredibly specific: unlike some of their distant relatives in other countries, Belgian chips are fried twice: first at 160C, then, after half an hour’s rest, a second time at 190C.
Belgian Chips: The Rules according to Belgianfries.com
1 Use potatoes suitable for frying, peel and cut them into fries of 1cm square. Soak them for a few minutes in cold water to remove excess starch but don’t forget to dry them on a paper towel before frying.
2 For the first round of frying, heat the oil to 160°C (320°F). Only put in a handful of chips at one time to prevent the oil from cooling down too much, which makes the chips soggy. After about 4-6 minutes, take them out of the oil and leave them to rest for 30 minutes on kitchen paper.
3 After they have rested, heat the oil to 190°C (375°F) and fry the chips in small batches for 2 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
The result? You have to try it yourself. There is a catch, though: like pesto, one you have had the homemade version, you will never want to go back to anything else.