Last week Marcus Wareing told us how it felt to be a newly crowned two-Michelin-starred chef. This week, as he publishes his first book, How to Cook the Perfect…, he shares exclusive extracts with Caterer readers
I used to make chowder like this when I worked at the Point, a luxury resort in upstate New York. We served it in a large tureen on the terrace at lunchtime – the guests helped themselves and ate it while enjoying the view of the beautiful Adirondack mountains.
1.5kg fresh live clams (palourdes or amandes)
150g unsalted butter
40g plain white flour
200ml dry white wine
750ml hot fish stock
150g fresh sweetcorn kernels or drained and rinsed canned sweetcorn
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
1 leek (white part only) cut into 1cm dice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large King Edward potato (about 200g), peeled and cut into 1cm dice
150ml double cream
A handful of fresh parsley (curly or flat-leaf), roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly milled white pepper
Soak the clams in cold water for at least 20 minutes, or up to an hour, to clean them.
Meanwhile, make a beurre manié (butter and flour liaison). Soften 50g of the butter and mix in the flour to make a thick paste. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Drain the clams in a colander, rinse under the cold tap to check there’s no sand left in the shells, and drain again. Discard any clams that are open or that do not close when tapped sharply on the worktop. Heat a wide pan over a high heat until hot, tip in the clams and wine, and cover the pan tightly. Give the pan a shake, then take off the lid – some or all of the clams will be open. Remove the open ones with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the lid on again, and continue until all the clams have opened. (Discard any that stay closed.)
When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove most of them from their shells, reserving some in shells for the garnish. Pour the cooking liquid slowly through a fine sieve into a clean pan, leaving the sediment behind in the bottom of the first pan. Mix the hot fish stock with the cooking liquid and set aside.
If using fresh sweetcorn, blanch it in a small pan of salted boiling water for one minute, then drain and rinse under the cold tap.
Heat the remaining butter in a heavy pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and garlic, and cook without colouring for a few minutes until they start to soften. Season with a little salt. Add the potato and cook for about five minutes until softened, then remove from the heat and stir in the shelled clams and sweetcorn. Set aside.
Bring the fish stock to the boil. Whisk in the beurre manié in small pieces, then boil and whisk until thickened. Stir in the cream and bring back to the boil, then add the clams and vegetables and heat through gently for a minute or two. Season lightly, and finish by adding the clams in their shells and the parsley. Serve hot.
Key to perfection: The liquid in a chowder should be like velvet, and there are two ways to achieve this. You should remove all the sand and grit from the clams before you start cooking, then use a beurre manié at the end to thicken the liquid and give it a smooth consistency. Classic recipes thicken the chowder once everything is in, but it’s better to thicken the stock on its own so you don’t crush the delicate potatoes and clams.
Griddled lamb chops
The griddle pan wasn’t around when I was growing up, but I couldn’t manage without one now. It’s the perfect way to cook chops and steaks because the meat sits on the ridges of the pan and the fat runs into the grooves in between. This has to be healthier than letting the meat sit in its own fat during cooking.
6-8 loin lamb chops
Olive oil, for brushing
1 small bunch of fresh rosemary
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the mint sauce
1tbs redcurrant jelly
3tbs malt vinegar
15g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Spinach with garlic and cream
First make the mint sauce. Melt the jelly over a low heat in a small pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Leave to cool before adding the mint. Use the sauce as soon as possible (within an hour of making it) or the mint will discolour.
Brush the meat lightly with olive oil. Season the fat and meat with salt and pepper.
Heat a dry griddle pan over a high heat until very hot. Put the chops in the pan fat side down and cook for four to five minutes until the fat renders and becomes crisp.
Lay the chops flat on one of their sides and strew the rosemary sprigs over the meat. Cook for another four to five minutes, basting frequently with the fat in the pan.
Turn the chops over and cook the other sides for the same length of time, basting as before.
Serve the chops on a bed of spinach, with the mint sauce in a small bowl.
Key to perfection: Rendering the fat in a griddle pan at the beginning of cooking will give the chops a crisp edge, then you can use the melted fat for basting the meat as it continues to cook. This will make the meat naturally moist and juicy, without the need for a lot of extra oil or fat.
Lemon posset with hot spiced fruits
The idea for these spiced fruits came to me one winter when I wanted to evoke the scent and flavour of mulled wine. The extreme temperatures of hot fruits and chilled posset work really well together, and you can vary the fruit to suit the season.
4 lemons (approx)
850ml double cream
250g caster sugar
For the hot spiced fruits
3 stalks of rhubarb, trimmed of leaves and root ends
3 Victoria plums
A small handful of blueberries or blackcurrants (optional)
A handful each of blackberries and raspberries
50g unsalted butter, diced
150g caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise
2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
3-4tbs dark rum (optional)
Finely grate the zest from the lemons. Halve the lemons and squeeze out the juice, then strain and measure it – you need 225ml.
Mix the cream, lemon zest, and sugar in a non-stick pan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for three minutes. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Strain the mix into a jug, pressing the zest in the sieve to extract as much flavour as possible. Discard the zest.
Skim the froth off the top of the posset mix, then pour equal amounts into six whisky glasses. Leave to cool. Cover the glasses with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
When you are ready to serve, prepare and cook the fruits. Cut the rhubarb into 1cm lozenges. Halve and stone the plums. Cut the halves lengthways down the middle and cut each quarter into four equal pieces. If using blackcurrants, top and tail them.
Heat a heavy pan over a medium heat. Add the diced butter and heat until foaming, then add the rhubarb and plums. Sauté the fruits for about five minutes until they start to soften, then add the blueberries or currants (if using), the sugar, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pods into the pan and drop in the pods too. Give the fruit a good stir and add the rum (if using), then cook for a further five to eight minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the whole spices and vanilla pods and fold in the blackberries and raspberries.
Serve the possets chilled, topped with the hot fruits.
Key to perfection: The addition of a precise amount of lemon juice is crucial to the success of a posset. The acid starts off a chemical reaction in the cream, and this makes it set when it’s chilled in the fridge.
Dorling Kindersley, the publisher of How to Cook the Perfect…, is offering Caterer readers the opportunity to buy the book for £16 including postage and package (it’s RRP is £20). To order, readers should call the DK Bookshop on 0870 070 7717, quoting order reference MW/CH as well as the ISBN number 978 1 4053 1758 0. The offer is subject to availability and open to UK residents only. Allow up to 14 days for delivery.