Get carried away: Bill Granger reveals how trips abroad have changed the way he cooks meat
From his student days in Paris to work trips in Tokyo to holidays in Tuscany...our chef lets influences from his travels take the meal in more interesting directions
Sunday 02 February 2014
The first thing I ever learnt to cook was a roast dinner. My dad being a butcher, we used to eat prime cuts of meat every night. It might sound luxurious but the boredom of it, and a thirst to eat anything just as long as it wasn't a roast is probably what pushed me to discover interesting foods for myself.
The roast dinner at home was always very traditional and almost caricature 1970s: frozen vegetables, roast potatoes, gravy from a powdered mix – probably what a lot of people were cooking.
Even now when dad comes over I always make a roast for him, but these days I let influences from my travels take the meal in more interesting directions. We're exposed to so many different cuisines it's difficult not to be influenced by them. Whether you go Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, fusion or otherwise, a few carefully selected ingredients can lift the taste of what could have been a straightforward meaty stew or roast no end.
For me, chilli, garlic, ginger – or all three – often come into the mix but there's much more besides that you can play with. The Italians are masters with the delicate flavour of pork, using sweet and fruity flavours to complement the meat. The savoury richness of miso is the perfect match for an Asian-influenced roast beef, and lamb prepared Middle Eastern-style, bursting with herby flavours, is very hard to beat.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Porchetta with chilli, rosemary and shaved fennel
Short of spit-roasting a whole suckling pig, this is my favourite way of recreating the porchetta experience from Tuscan holidays. If there are leftovers, I'll make porchetta rolls the next day.
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red chillies, chopped
2Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
21 tbsp light-flavoured oil
22kg boned pork loin, unrolled. Get your butcher to score the skin well
21 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly bashed
22 tbsp sea salt
21 tsp chilli flake
23 lemons, halved
For the salad
2 fennel bulbs, sliced on a mandolin
2Juice 1 lemon
21 tsp white-wine vinegar
21 tsp icing sugar, plus a dusting
22 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7. Mix the garlic, chilli and parsley with a drop of oil. Lay the pork skin-side down on a board and rub the oil mixture into the flesh and under the skin. Roll up to form a long roasting joint and tie with string. Rub the outside with a little more oil then push the fennel, salt and chilli flakes into and on the skin.
Place the lemon halves cut side up in a large roasting tin and sit the pork on the lemon. Cook for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180C/350F/Gas4 cook for a further 1½ hours. If you need to crisp the skin k a little more, heat the grill to hot and crisp for a few minutes – watching carefully, as the crackling will puff up and easily burn. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
To make the fennel salad, mix all of the ingredients in a big bowl. Serve with slices of the pork.
Miso roast beef fillet with ginger and spring onion dressing
I've taken a liberty with this dish. Really, ovens aren't a part of the Japanese kitchen – things are simmered or grilled. The idea first came to me while eating in one of those little bars in the backstreets of Tokyo's Shimbashi district, where you just pull up a seat in front of the grill and get served the most amazing, simple meat – which is probably why all the salary men always flock there for their lunch and after-work meals.
Bill's miso roast beef fillet is inspired by the food he ate at bars in Tokyo (Kristin Perers)
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
22 tbsp red or brown miso
21kg beef fillet, trimmed of any sinew
For the dressing
4 tbsp light soy sauce
21 tbsp sesame oil
22 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
21 garlic clove, crushed
22cm piece ginger, grated
26 spring onions, finely chopped
2Micro herbs, to serve (optional)
Stir 1 tbsp of oil into the miso. Dry the beef then rub with the miso-and-oil mix. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Heat the rest of the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, sear the beef on all sides and transfer to a baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes for rare beef, longer if you like your meat well done. Remove and rest for 30 minutes.
To make the dressing, put the soy, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic and ginger in a bowl and mix well. Add the spring onions; set aside.
Slice the beef thinly then lay on a platter and spoon over the dressing and any resting juices, scatter with herbs and serve. Delicious with soba noodles and extra dressing poured over.
Baked shoulder of lamb with za'atar, preserved lemon and labneh
I fell in love with Moroccan food as a poor art student in Paris, when my friends and I explored the cheap restaurants of the now trendy Marais. It was there that I discovered the beauty of slow-cooked lamb stews and braises, where the meat just falls off the bone into a rich, spicy broth.
Bill's baked shoulder of lamb is slow-cooked in the Moroccan way (Kristin Perers)
1 tbsp olive oil
22 tbsp sumac
22 tbsp za'atar
22kg shoulder of lamb
28 shallots, peeled and large ones halved
24 carrots, peeled, cut into chunks
21 head garlic, halved through the centre
2500ml chicken stock
22 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained
21 preserved lemon, skin only, chopped
For the labneh
2 tsp salt
2500g Greek yoghurt
For the labneh, stir the salt into the yoghurt. Lay 3 to 4 pieces of muslin or strong kitchen towel in a sieve then pour in the yoghurt. Gather the edges of the cloth and twist to seal, then suspend the sieve over a basin or pan to collect any drained-off liquid. This will take about 12 hours.
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7. Mix the oil, sumac and za'atar together then rub all over and into the meat. Put the vegetables and garlic in the base of a large, shallow casserole dish, sit the lamb on top and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 150C/300F/Gas2, pour in half the stock then cover the casserole with a lid and cook for 3 hours.
Remove the lamb from the pan and rest for 30 minutes. Spoon off any excess oil, tip in the beans and lemon and remaining stock, stir to loosen any sediment from the bottom of the pan then return to the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Serve chunks of the lamb with the beans, stock and labneh.
Food styling: Rosie Reynolds
Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
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