You have been ever so nice about my last blog- it seems that my readership (dear old Mum) prefer practicality to poetry, prose over ponciness. How do you feel about alliteration I wonder? Oops too late.
So I thought I would do myself out of a bit more business by trying to pass on some things that I have learnt over the years. ‘Secrets part deux’ if you will……The French flummery makes it more cheffy innit.
- Another pasta sauce. Three ingredients. If these three ingredients are good, this is divine. If they are not then you just have so much cat sick. Cook some pasta. No I don’t care what shape. In the immortal words of Alan Partridge, ‘Action Man bow-ties’ will be fine. Drain the pasta but leave a couple of milimetres of cooking water in the pan. Now. Easy. Throw in a handful of grated parmesan and the juice and zest from a beautiful unwaxed lemon. And some extraordinarily good grassy extra virgin oil. Stir. If you want to go nuts a few capers wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
- This is a biggie. Melt a whole pack (250g) of butter with about 300g of dark chocolate. Whisk together 5 eggs and 300g of caster sugar. Mix all of the above together with 150g of flour. Thats 26 words and you can now make the best chocolate brownies ever. You can add stuff to this mix if you like- walnuts? sure! White chocolate chunks? Hell yeah! Chorizo? Heston might- you shouldn’t. Oh and cook in a buttered tray for 20 minutes at 180.
- Chicken thighs are the tastiest damn thing. Listen, do yourself a favour- buy some good free range or organic chicken thighs. They MUST have skin on. Remove the bone with a sharp knife or get the butcher to. Season with what you hitherto might consider a bit too much salt. Lay skin side down in a hot oiled pan. Don’t move them until the skin is crunchy and golden – they should nearly be cooked all the way through, then flip them over for 5 minutes. You now have salty, crunchy, deeply savoury chicken skin and moist dense flesh. Use in an amazing Caesar salad, a stir fry or just cut into thin strips and have the most indulgent snack. Don’t wash the pan until you have snaffled the sticky crispy bits.
- Spend £60 on one good knife. Repeat. One. Good. Knife. This will change your cooking life. Don’t buy a ‘Chef’s Block’ of eight crap knives. You do not need a ‘paring’ knife. And neither do I. Get a medium size, very sharp kitchen knife- I personally use Sai Japanese knives because the feel nice in my big sausage fingers. Global are obviously good too. Be careful on Ebay. My set of Globle knives are not good.
- Onion Soup- not the french watery one. Slice 5 white onions. Sweat in butter on the lowest hob setting for as long as you feasibly can- 45 minutes would not be unreasonable. Add a little thyme, a pint of chicken stock (which you diligently made from your chicken thigh bones) and half a pint of cream. Now then, blend this all together and simmer for 15 minutes. You now have a delicious bowl of warming soup. To make a cheffy starter put a little pile of shredded duck confit (or crispy chicken thigh) in the bowl. Or cut the liquid by 2 thirds and pass resultant mixture through a fine sieve. This puree will enliven most meats and even oily fish like mackerel. I bloody love onion puree.
- Go to Borough Market by yourself and just watch. Suck it all up. Buy stuff or don’t, but just watch and think and make plans.
- Blitz up this lot.- Loads of scotch bonnet chillis, sesame oil, cider vinegar, ginger, brown sugar, fresh coriander, all spice, garlic…. until you have a pungent wet paste. Leave chicken portions, pork chops or similiar in it over night and barbecue over hot coals. Eat with a cold beer, hot friends and some potato salad.
- A mushroom left on the barbecue, stalk pointing to the sky will become more juicy, intense and delicious than you would believe feasible.
- Peeling the skin off an eel is more satisfying than you could possibly imagine. And not just for bestial miscreants.