Skye Gyngell knows the perfect way to shake off end-of-winter fatigue: invite a few friends over for this re-energising three-course meal

This veal-chop dish is the food I have been craving above everything else this week. Very often when I am cold and tired my body craves warm |food and, in particular, meat, which I want to eat with very little accompaniment. |I suspect this is something to do with |my body needing iron.

Veal chops are a favourite of mine. At Petersham we serve only English veal, as the young cows are looked after in a more humane way than abroad. Veal has a tender, almost, sweet flavour; a good crust is essential and this can best be achieved by generous salting and a very hot pan.

Setting the veal up perfectly is the salt cod I’ve done here as a starter. It is great with white polenta, an ingredient traditionally served with seafood in Venice. It’s a warm and nourishing first course. To finish I have done a syllabub – easy and quick to make, and classically English, with just enough sharpness to take it out of the realms of baby food.

I have bought myself some veal from my local butcher and will cook this exact meal for friends later this week.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, www.petershamnurseries.com

Salt cod with white polenta

At Petersham we cure our own salt cod, which is simple and allows us to control how salty the final result is. But it is not difficult to find salt cod in any Portuguese or Spanish delicatessen. This makes the process far quicker and easier.

Serves 6

500g/1lb salt cod
1 pint of milk
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
80ml/3fl oz olive oil
3 tbsp crème fraîche

For the polenta

1 litre/13/4 pints water
250g/8oz white polenta
The zest of an unwaxed lemon
50g/2oz unsalted butter
Sea salt and black pepper

Start by soaking the cod in water. Leave for a couple of hours, change the water and soak again. Repeat this process three times. The final time, leave it soaking overnight. The next day, remove the cod from the water, and place in a pan large enough to hold it. Pour over the milk, add the garlic and bay leaves and bring to just under a boil; cook for five minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, place the cod in a mixing bowl with a third of the milk in which it was heated, having first removed the bay leaves but not the garlic. Take a rolling pin and pound the cod gently with the end. The cod should break up into a rough sort of purée. Add the olive oil and crème fraîche and continue to pound. The cod should be smooth and soft but still with a little texture. Taste for seasoning; it will not need salt but perhaps a little pepper. Set aside while you cook the polenta.

For the polenta, place a large, heavy-based pan over a high heat, add the water and let it come to a boil. Once the water has boiled, add the polenta. Turn down the heat and cook the polenta until soft and creamy in texture – it is important to stir the polenta constantly until cooked. Once cooked, add the lemon zest and butter, and season with salt and pepper. You can keep the polenta warm by sitting the bowl above a saucepan of simmering water.

Place the finished salt cod in a saucepan, keeping the heat low, stirring until it is well warmed through. Divide the polenta between four plates and spoon over the warmed cod. I generally finish the dish by pouring over a little olive oil.

Roast veal chop, with salsa verde and fennel

Serves 4

For the salsa verde

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
1 bunch of mint, leaves only
1 handful of rocket
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
10 capers, well rinsed
3 anchovies
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
180ml/6fl oz good-quality olive oil
A little salt

For the veal and fennel

4 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed
The juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 veal chop per person
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6.

For the salsa verde, place the parsley, mint and rocket into a blender along with the mustard, capers and anchovies. Add the red-wine vinegar and blitz until the herbs have just a little texture left. Pour the olive oil in through the funnel in the top, and taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary – it should need very little salt. Set aside in a bowl. Salsa verde keeps well for three to four days, but don’t leave it in the fridge, as the cold bruises the herbs and makes them taste old.

Next, using a sharp knife, slice the fennel bulbs lengthwise into about six pieces each. Place on a baking tray, squeeze over the lemon juice, season with the salt and pepper, and pour over the oil. Toss together with your fingers, cover with foil, place in the hot oven and roast covered for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for a further 10 minutes to allow the fennel to get a little colour. Remove from the oven while you cook the veal chop.

Place a large pan over a high flame on top of the stove and brown the chops. Once the pan is very hot, season the meat really generously with the salt and pepper and lay in the pan – if you don’t have a pan large enough to hold all the chops comfortably do a couple at a time and keep them in a warm place until the others are cooked. Cook each without turning for approximately four minutes then turn and cook on the other side for a further three minutes. To my mind, meat is only really delicious when it has been properly browned on the outside – it gives it a proper crust, which is delicious before you discover the tender centre.

When they are all browned, place the chops into a roasting pan and roast on the middle shelf of the preheated oven, cook for five minutes then remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place.

To serve, place the veal on four plates, serve with a wedge of lemon and spoon over the salsa verde.

Lemon syllabub

Serves 6

200g/7oz caster sugar
200ml/7fl oz dried sherry, such as fino
The juice and zest of one lemon
600ml/1 pint double cream

Combine the sugar, sherry, lemon zest and juice in a bowl. In a different bowl, lightly whip the cream just enough to thicken it slightly. Now gently fold the sherry mixture into the cream until just combined – the lemon juice will continue to thicken the cream.

Spoon the syllabub into small glasses and refrigerate for an hour or so to just chill before serving.

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