By Tom Kerridge
Absolute Press, £25
The recipes are exactly the kind I want to cook up in huge quantities and share among family and friends in a relaxed setting with no pomp or ceremony. They include dishes that would go down equally well within a pub or casual-dining environment, with interesting and bold flavours always the key focus.
The book is primarily aimed at the home cook, and Kerridge has stripped away many of the techniques employed at his Marlow pubs: the Hand & Flowers, the holder of two Michelin stars, and the Coach, which received a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide.
But what he never scrimps on is taste, and the book is sprinkled with useful tips for ensuring that flavours pack a punch every time. For instance, to brown meat properly, before adding it to the likes of a dish of green chilli con carne, it should be taken "as far as you dare, until it's virtually coffee-granule brown and really crispy".
Besides British food, such as Cheddar and ale soup and ox cheek with horseradish, there is also plenty from further afield, with Kerridge recognising that Brits are probably the "most adventurous eaters on the planet". Hence the inclusion of smokey-flavoured blackened Cajun redfish, a heart-warming pot of cholent (a Jewish dish of beef, beans and barley), and deep-pan meat feast pizza.
I can personally vouch for Mediterranean chicken, a one-pot dish that Kerridge describes as "like the top of a really good pizza", that would go down a storm in a foodservice setting. And his pulled pork shoulder is a delicious, spicy rendition of the ubiquitous dish.
There are some excellent puddings and cakes, too. Black grape, mint and meringue tart is Kerridge's attempt to elevate grapes beyond a mere garnish for a cheese plate, and red chilli rocky road is not for the faint-hearted.
By Janet Harmer
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