How to feed your friends like Fergus Henderson of St John
One of the most intriguing things to find out about chefs is not what they cook in their restaurants but what they feed their family and friends. True, at St John one morphs into the other, but the lunch they held in London this week to celebrate the publication of Fergus Henderson’s new book The Complete Nose to Tail was one I’d have been more than proud to put on for my mates.
The first course admittedly would have been beyond most of us - puffed up crisp-fried pigs like giant porky Quavers served with what anyone else would have called taramasalata but Fergus just calls cods roe.
Then there were two generous platters to share - fine slivers of cooked pigs head with a punchy celeriac mayonnaise and a really gorgeous green bean salad with shallots, crisp crumbs and the softest of goats curd.
The main course was a minced meat pie which doesn’t sound that exciting but it was the Best Meat Pie Ever. Mince from a well hung animal I’d have said with maybe a sneaky bit of kidney or other offal worked in and a gorgeous shiny crust with a soft gooey underbelly where the pastry met the meat. Served with French-style mash with (I suspect) outrageous amounts of butter. No veg - we’d already had our greens in the form of beans - but you could (and I would) serve some spring greens or cabbage at home.
Then finally a sublime custard tart, baked in a deep, crisp shell, warm, sweet, creamy and wobbly. I’ve never tasted a better one.
All the food was served for sharing rather than individually plated.
It shows that you don’t have to make fancy food to impress your friends just make the food you love.
And to drink: Bloody Marys to kick off with then bottles of light, graceful Savigny Aux Clous Savigny-les-Beaune 1er cru 2009 from Domaine Louis Chenu were put on the table for us to help ourselves. A simple rustic red like a Côtes du Rhône Villages or Languedoc red would have worked too and you could of course have kicked off with a crisp dry white. (Invariably French, in Fergus's case.)
You should be able to find the recipes in Fergus’s book which I’ll review shortly. It's basically a compilation of all his published recipes but with a beautiful new design and extra photography by Jason Lowe. Even if you have his other books you'll want to own it.
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