Warm mackerel with potato and wild garlic
Mackerel is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment - this salad makes the most of its mild, sweet smokiness. Serves 4View Recipe
4 desiree potatoes (850g in total), unpeeled
4 mackerel fillets, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
4 tbsp light olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
50g mixed leaves, such as rocket, watercress and baby spinach
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, cut into wedges
For the sauce:
250g Greek yoghurt
5g tarragon, finely chopped
2 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped, or 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
45g spring onions, sliced thinly
45ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne or chilli flakes
In a bowl, mix the sauce ingredients and taste - you're aiming for quite a spicy flavour, so adjust if necessary. Set aside. Cook potatoes in salted water until very tender (the tip of a knife should sink right in - about 45 minutes should do it). Drain and put to one side in a warm place.
Sprinkle the mackerel with a pinch each of salt and pepper and the paprika. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a pan and fry the mackerel for 1-2 minutes on each side, until just cooked. Toss the mixed leaves in a bowl with the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, plus the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
To assemble, cut the warm potatoes into 1.5cm slices. Arrange a layer of them on one side of a serving plate and spoon a little sauce on top. Continue with a couple more layers of potato and sauce and finish with the fish. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle on some sea salt. Pile the leaves on the other side of the plate and serve with wedges of lemon.
Date-stuffed whole mackerel
Serves four.View Recipe
130g medjool dates, pitted
50ml orange juice
2 medium lemons
4 mackerel (roughly 180g each), cleaned and gutted
24-30 vine leaves
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the dates and orange juice in a saucepan and place on a low heat. Stir for about a minute, just to warm up, then break the dates into a rough paste using a fork.
Take one lemon, slice it as thinly as you can and remove the pips. Cut the other lemon into four wedges.
Make three shallow parallel cuts on both sides of each mackerel. Use a sharp knife to create a large cavity in the fishes' stomachs. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside and outside the fish, and spread the date paste inside.
Line a work surface with roughly six prepared vine leaves (see intro), veiny side up and slightly overlapping. You want a rectangular surface with a width smaller than the fish's length (to allow the head and tail to protrude from both sides) and a length at least four times the fish's width. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Lay one fish along the base of each vine square, about 3cm from the bottom. Place three or four lemon slices on top of each fish, slightly overlapping, avoiding the head and the tail. Roll the bottom strip of leaves over the lemon slices, then roll the whole fish up in the leaves until tightly covered, with only head and tail sticking out.
Heat a ridged griddle pan (or barbecue). Once very hot, brush the fish parcels with oil, lay them on the griddle at right angles to the ridges, and grill for two minutes a side. Transfer to an oven tray, brush each parcel with more oil, and roast for four minutes, until just cooked.
Serve at once with a lemon wedge on the side and a little pile of watercress lightly dressed with olive oil and seasoned with salt.
Roasted pork belly
Scully, the undisputed king of evening service at Ottolenghi Islington, makes the crispest and tastiest pork belly. You enjoy it in two stages: first, when the crackling breaks in your mouth with a crunch, like flaky pastry; second, when the perfectly tender layers of fat and meat melt on your tongue, imparting delectable smoky and herby flavours. Scully also comes up with the perfect seasonal relishes to go with the pork. Here are two of his creations, but there are infinite other combinations of fruit and spice that we would encourage you to explore. The quantities suggested here will probably leave you with some leftover relish to use later. Serve with anything from mackerel to roast turkey. They should keep in the fridge for at least 10 days, probably longer. When cooking the pork expect quite a lot of smoke in the kitchen due to the high initial oven temperature. Make sure you keep a window open. Serves 6–8View Recipe
1 bunch of thyme, roughly chopped
1 bunch of rosemary, roughly chopped
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
150ml olive oil
1 piece of pork belly, weighing 2–3kg
1 bottle of white wine
coarse sea salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 250°C/Gas Mark 10 or its highest setting. Place the herbs, garlic and olive oil in a heavy-duty blender or food processor and purée them roughly.
Lay the pork belly in an oven tray, skin-side down, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Use your hands to spread the herb mixture evenly all over the top, pressing it on so it sticks to the meat.
Turn the belly skin-side up, wipe the skin dry with kitchen paper and sprinkle sea salt evenly all over the skin (but don’t put too much on,
as it might create a crust and prevent the crackling forming). Put the tray in the oven and roast for 1 hour, turning the tray around every
20 minutes. Once the skin has formed some crackling, turn the oven down to 170°C/Gas Mark 3, pour the white wine into the tray (avoiding the pork skin) and continue roasting for another hour. If the belly starts turning black, cover it with foil.
For the last cooking stage, turn the oven down to 110°C/Gas Mark ¼ and continue roasting for another hour, until the skin has crackled completely and thoroughly dried.
Remove the pork from the oven. Use a sharp knife to divide it into segments of a few ribs, cutting between the rib bones. Give as many ribs per portion as the appetite demands. Serve with relish (opposite) on the side.
Southern fried chicken
My version of this legendary dish is based on a method perfected by Michael Rhulman, whose brilliant book Rhulman's Twenty demystifies some fundamental cooking techniques. You need to start 24 hours ahead, but it's one of the most worthwhile waits I can think of. Serve with the slaw that follows. Serves six.View Recipe
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, skin on, crushed
12 bay leaves
8 allspice berries
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soft brown or caster sugar
Fine sea salt
12 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
150g plain flour
1½ tbsp freshly ground white pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
3 tbsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbsp baking powder
About 1 litre sunflower oil, for frying
Pour a litre of tap water into a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic, bay, allspice, vinegar, sugar and a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside to cool; about an hour should do. Add the chicken thighs, making sure they are fully submerged, cover and leave in the fridge for 24 hours to marinate, stirring from time to time.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Rinse the chicken, discarding the brine, and pat dry very well. Put the flour, white pepper, paprika, coriander seeds, baking powder and a teaspoon of salt in a bowl and mix well. Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl. Dip the chicken thighs one by one into the buttermilk – they need just a thin coating, so brush against the rim of the bowl to remove any excess – then coat with the flour mixture. You want an even yet thin coat.
Pour enough oil into a large sauté pan so that it rises 4cm up the sides. Place on a medium-high heat and use a thermometer to bring the oil to 170C (if you don't have a thermometer, the oil needs to keep sizzling away when you're frying the chicken, but only moderately so). Working in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan and thus lower the temperature of the oil, gently lower the chicken thighs into the oil and cook for nine minutes, turning once. Transfer to a kitchen towel-lined plate and keep warm while you cook the rest of the chicken.
Transfer the thighs to a baking tray and finish them off in the oven for a further eight to 12 minutes, until cooked through. Leave to rest for five minutes before serving.