Sunday, 13 January 2013

Simon Hopkinson: The Good Cook

There’s a third person in our marriage – no, not in that way - but I get that distinct, jealous ‘playground feeling’ about the BSG and his new best friend, Simon.

I am to blame, I introduced them – he and his Roast Chicken and Other Stories and whatnot, he with his simple flavoursome ways and his ‘no-fuss approach’. The BSG is waxing lyrical. The Good Cook by Simon Hopkinson; the best book he’s ever used? Probably.

Although we’re not on a January detox as such, we are attempting to conduct some kind of regime on weeknights. But let’s be realistic; this time of year calls for warmth and January gets such a bad rap, so we can’t be all alfalfa sprouts, quinoa and miso, can we? After a memorable Hopkinson dish of poached chicken, hot cucumbers and saffron sauce last year we looked once again to The Good Cook for inspiration in pared-down culinary chic – the food equivalent of a scrubbed bare wooden table: frugality and comfort all in one.

On Sunday we had pan-fried duck breast with sweet and sour onions and a week’s worth of spinach (something about having to forgo hard carbs makes the BSG incapable of portion control in other areas). It ought to have been calves’ liver according to the recipe but we couldn’t find any and duck has that same, sweet irony note. It was - I reluctantly conceded - absolutely delicious and we didn’t miss the obvious carbs. The star of the show was the warm oniony relish (like the rest of my family, I certainly relish a condiment). The key, according to my culinary love-rival? Make sure you cook them super slowly. Whatevs.

Simon H: 1, moi: 0.

On Monday was his extremely straightforward Tandoori chicken legs and wings with a BSG-special daal and raita.

Simon H: 2 (but who’s counting…?)

Supper on Tuesday was astonishingly quick – griddled chicken breasts over a crunchy salad dressed with a sweet mustard emulsion, the consistency of Salad Cream (though the BSG was quick to point out, MUCH nicer than that). SH advises sunflower oil, a lot of Dijon, a squeeze of lemon, a teaspoon of caster sugar and salt and pepper. Delicious.

A hat-trick for Hopkinson.

You can find the full sweet and sour onion recipe here on the BBC website. Pretty scrummy, I must admit. If these shenanigans carry on much longer, I may just pack up my beloved Salad Cream and push off.

grilled chicken salad

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