Lord of the Fries: As the Government tries to shrink portions, where to bag tastiest deal – Published in Daily Mail

Which High St chain only gives you 10 chips … and which dishes out 152! As the Government tries to shrink portions, here’s where to bag the tastiest deal

 

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RESTAURANTS and cafes waste £3billion worth of food every year – 75 per cent of which could have been eaten.

So this month, the Waste and Resources Action Programme urged that people should be served smaller portions of chips – everywhere from Michelin-starred restaurants to High Street chip shops. The Government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion, Ben Elliot, said: ‘This campaign brilliantly shines a light on the food waste epidemic.’

So to help cut food waste and trim your waistline, ETAN SMALLMAN has investigated exactly what you get in a portion of chips, from local chippies to big chains – and put them to the all-important Daily Mail taste test …

 

OIL SLICK

McDonald’s medium fries
Number of chips: 48
Nutrition: 337 calories and 0.6g of salt per portion

SLENDER, yellow fries made from a mix of potatoes: Pentland Dell, Russet Burbank, Innovator, Shepody and Ivory Russet, with added dextrose (an artificial sweetener made from corn.) Fried in rapeseed and sunflower oil. McDonald’s says a serving should weigh 114g. Our sample was 84g – 26 per cent lighter.

PRICE: £1.09 or 2.3p per chip
TASTE TEST: These are the most uniform-looking of the lot – bright yellow, thin and wonderfully crispy. But there is no potato flavour, merely an overwhelming taste of oil and salt.

 

KING OF CARDBOARD

Burger King medium fries
Number of chips: 61
Nutrition: 280 calories and 0.58g of salt per portion

BURGER KING prides itself on fries that are thicker than those at McDonald’s. A serving should weigh 116g. Our sample was 169g – a whole 46 per cent heavier.

PRICE: £2.09 or 3.4p per chip
TASTE TEST: These bright yellow fries taste almost as processed as they look. They are the least salty – though you can of course add your own – meaning oil is the overriding flavour. They have a nice crispness, but taste cardboardy after a few mouthfuls.

SQUIDGY SPUDS

KFC, regular fries
Number of chips: 47
Nutrition: 250 calories and 0.5g of salt per portion

KFC uses four unnamed types of potato fried in vegetable oil. A serving should weigh 115g. Our sample was 125g – 9 per cent heavier.

PRICE: £1.29 or 2.7p per chip
TASTE TEST: These orange-hued chips have bits of potato peel on them, which is perhaps why you can actually taste some of the vegetable. They have a medium crispness and a squidgy middle, but are not that moreish because of the strong taste of oil.

PEANUT POWER

Five Guys regular fries
Number of chips: 152
Nutrition: 1,019 calories and 1.6g of salt per portion

JUST three ingredients: unpeeled potatoes, peanut oil and salt. Using peanut oil is said to allow the chips to be heated to a higher temperature, ‘locking in flavour and freshness’. Servings come ‘with an extra scoop after the cup is full. Every time’. A typical serving should weigh 376g. Our sample was 326g – 13per cent underfilled.

PRICE: £4.75 or 3.1p per chip
TASTE TEST: These orange-edged chips are super-crisp on the outside, and nice and mushy on the inside. The peanut oil gives a subtle, but pleasant, flavour and makes them incredibly moreish with no greasy aftertaste.

SPICY CIRCLES

Leon baked fries
Number of chips: 12
Nutrition: 302 calories and 1.3g of salt per portion

ROUND waffleshaped fries made with different spuds based on their seasonality. (Leon is currently using Challenger). They’re cooked in sunflower oil and contain modified starch, cornflour, rice flour, onion powder, yeast extract, dextrose and xanthan gum (a thickening agent). A typical serving should be 100g. Our sample was 109g – 9 per cent overfilled.

PRICE: £2.45 or 20p per chip
TASTE TEST: These are deep orange on the outside and pale yellow on the inside. They are crispy and packed with flavour – with a hint of spice – but they taste surprisingly processed for a chain whose slogan is ‘naturally fast food’.

VARIETY PACK

Nando’s regular chips
Number of chips: 53
Nutrition: 465 calories and 0.7g of salt per portion

MADE from different varieties of potato throughout the year, including Premiere, Fontane, Cabaret, Maris Piper and Royal. Fried in rapeseed oil. A typical serving should weigh 180g. Our sample was 198g – 10 per cent overfilled.

PRICE: £2.60 or 5p per chip
TASTE TEST: These are the least consistent of all we tasted – some are crisp, others soggy. Some are orange in colour, while others are more brown. They look more natural, but the oily aftertaste is unpleasant. They are a bit of a halfway house – if you want uniform crispness, go for one of the burger chains; if you want chunky stodginess, go for the chippie.

PALE PERFECTION

Byron French fries
Number of chips: 98
Nutrition: not provided

THESE long and thin chips, the palest of the bunch, were also the most beautifully presented, wrapped in brown paper in a compact cardboard box. Byron does not provide a guideline weight. Our sample was 169g.

PRICE: £3 or 3p per chip
TASTE TEST: These fries are a paler yellow than your typical fast-food chain variety. They also have a lightness of flavour and a more wholesome taste. You get a hint of salt and of oil, but you can actually taste the potato. A perfect balance of crispiness and chewiness.

FULL ON FLAVOUR

Pizza Express polenta chips
Number of chips: 10
Nutrition: 454 calories and 2.7g of salt per portion

THESE Italian polenta chips (using cornmeal, not potatoes) are speckled with rosemary and served with a honey and mustard dip. They’re oven-baked, so no cooking oil is used. A typical serving should weigh 208g. Our sample was 133g – 36 per cent underfilled.

PRICE: £4.80 or 48p per chip
TASTE TEST: They are cooked to perfection, with a nice crisp outside and a slightly grainy filling. They are among the most flavoursome and come with optional Parmesan sprinkled on top.

SPUDDY GOOD

Fisherman’s Hut Fish and Chips, London W12, regular chips
Number of chips: 124
Nutrition: Not provided

THESE hearty chips from a London chippie are likely to be lower in fat because the larger surface area means they absorb less oil. Customers can add as much or as little salt as they like. There is no guideline weight. Our sample was 603g.

PRICE: The cheapest in our test. £1.50 or 1.2p per chip
TASTE TEST: These are the most pallid out of our selection, but the chips are hearty, chunky and there is a satisfying contrast between the crisp exterior and the mushy goodness within. They feel less oily in the mouth.

CHEAP AS CHIPS

London Best Kebab, London W12, regular chips
Number of chips: 92
Nutrition: Not provided

THESE mid-size fries fall between the fast-food chains and the chippie in terms of thickness. Uniform in shape, golden in colour and the second-cheapest we tested. There is no guideline weight. Our sample was 304g.

PRICE: £1.30 or 1.4p per chip
TASTE TEST: These are lovely and crisp, uniform in shape and golden in colour. The texture of the soft potato is pleasing, but the oil is the flavour that comes through the strongest.

AND FINALLY … HOW TO MAKE A HEALTHY CHIP

IF YOU’RE making home-cooked chips, use an air-fryer rather than a deep-fat appliance. These gadgets combine a tiny amount of oil with hot air to give a perfectly cooked low-fat chip. The Tefal ActiFry Genius (£180, johnlewis.com) has a chips setting and stirs them for you during cooking.

To cram in more vitamins and fibre, consider alternatives to potatoes. Try carrot and parsnip fries (£1.99, ocado.com), Strong Roots Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries (2.99, waitrose.com) or Aunt Bessie’s Vegetable Chips (£2.50, sainsburys.co.uk).

Plus, make sure your condiments pass muster. Heinz sells a ketchup with 50per cent less salt and sugar, and one with none added at all. Dr Will’s tomato ketchup (£3.49 at Ocado) is sweetened with dates. It has 66 calories per 100g (compared with 102 calories in standard Heinz), 11.6g of sugar (22.8g in Heinz) and 0.6g of salt (1.8g in Heinz).

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