Adam Byatt winter cooking

Adam Byatt talks comfort food

Adam Byatt on comfort food

Chef Adam Byatt on how home cooked comfort food is just the ticket for sustenance and a sense of normality… 

When planning a long lingering lunch in the winter months, let your menu dictate a sense of warmth, ease and generosity. Whole joints of meat are great for sharing with the family. Try a belly of pork with luscious crackling, or slow braised lamb shoulder (less carving needed!). Or for something different, perhaps try a poached cockerel, which can be found in Moens in Clapham – you can simply poach for two hours or give a long slow braise.

When it comes to sides and vegetables, I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t long for roast potatoes. Be sure to boil them first and allow a good hour and a half for a really crispy but fluffy potato. Cauliflower cheese is another huge crowd pleaser, made simpler if you make the cheese sauce the day before and try leaving the cauliflower whole to bake, simply coating with the sauce and extra cheese.

Always use plenty of vegetables, seasonal, mixed and varied. For example, in November, I would make a mix of savoy cabbage, chard stems, kale and cavolo nero, all cut sympathetically and placed into a pan with plenty of butter, a little water and lots of salt and black pepper, full heat on the stove and in less than ten minutes you’re done.

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Pies are wonderful. Cottage, Shepherd’s, and pastry versions alike all lend themselves to the feeling of being home, safe and warm. Try making rough puff pastry yourself with 200g plain flour, 150g butter with a pinch of salt and a drop of lemon juice, 100ml of cold water – bring this together and the pastry is ready to roll. On a floured board, roll the dough into a rectangle three times as long as it is wide. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up, turn the pastry sideways and continue to roll. Do this three times, resting in the fridge for 15 minutes in between. It makes a wonderful light pastry and can be kept frozen for rainy days – literally.

When it comes to pudding a trifle isn’t just for summer, try plums and poached pears as the fruit element, skip the jelly, and use really good quality sherry with your sponge. I use a Pedro Ximenez sherry from Bottle Apostle in Abbeville Road. A top tip is to be cautious not to over whip the cream! For the perfect trifle use crystalised violets to finish. P.S Don’t forget a board of exquisite seasonal English cheeses to punctuate lunch and put the world to rights over.

Happy home cooking, Adam x

Try Adam’s beef short rib cottage pie

Image: Stuart Bailey Photography



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