The conversation: Polpetto's chef Florence Knight on the delights of ketchup with chocolate, how to cook a perfect moist turkey, and why she prefers the Boxing Day feast

 

How will you be spending Christmas?

It’s always at my mum’s. I’m one of five and now I’ve got four nieces and nephews. It’s very traditional: we have hand-knitted stockings with all our names on and a huge Christmas tree with an angel on top. It’s the one time of year family get together. My mum’s still like, ‘When are you going to go to sleep? Father Christmas is tired’. I love it.

What’s your favourite part of the Christmas meal?

I’m going to be controversial: Boxing Day is my favourite meal. I adore ham, and we have pickly red cabbage and leeks in a béchamel sauce and jacket potatoes.

What’s your top tip for the home chef for keeping the turkey moist?

I normally go for a Norfolk Black turkey. Because it’s big, I quite often brine it before. I always put streaky bacon on top, so the fat oozes into the skin. And a pork and sage stuffing inside to keep the moisture. Then a bed of loads of onions and vegetables so it’s sitting on something.

And do you know what a traditional Venetian Christmas involves?

There’s a lot more fish. They have this sausage that’s very important to them over there. It’s called osso collo and it’s sliced pork neck. Then they’ll have a ravioli and tend to eat a pandoro. I’ve already eaten three this year. It’s perfect torn up and dipped in coffee.

A lot is being made of the UK undergoing a foodie revolution. What do you think of that?

What’s especially great is what’s going on in the middle ground. It used to be Michelin star and McDonald’s, and there wasn’t much between. Now, you have all these amazing independent restaurants, all filling that price point with lovely food and great chefs.

Your first experience in a kitchen was at 19. How did you take to it?

Kitchens can be quite intimidating, but once you find the right people, they’re fantastic. I fell in love with all that atmosphere and passion.

Your cookbook has a section on ketchup. What’s the story there?

My food is very homely. The food with tweezers and the technical stuff, I admire. But there’s also nothing better than something simple and authentic. Ketchup is something that we all have. We eat it with fatty foods, like chips, because it has the pickly flavour that cuts through fat. So if you step back and think, what will it work with, it tends to be strong flavours.

Any surprises?

With chocolate, the ketchup brings out a lovely berryness, that makes your cheeks pucker. It’s all about getting that perfect balance: not enough for you to recognise ‘Oh that’s ketchup’.

Desert Island Discs scenario. Five ingredients, what would they be?

I’d definitely take olive oil. Salt, I love: a good-quality Maldon. You need your seasonings, so black pepper as well... Are we presuming the island has food on it, so I could catch a fish?

Yes, you can catch fish and hunt rabbits and pick veg...

OK, I’d like to take unwaxed lemons, because then you’ve got the skin and the juice. At the moment, I’m slightly addicted to Coolea. It’s an Irish cheese. It has an almost caramel flavour with salt granules that pop in your mouth. I’m completely in love with it!

Florence Knight, 27, is head chef at Venetian-inspired London restaurant Polpetto, set to reopen on 14 January 2014. Growing up near Godalming in Surrey, she has worked in kitchens since the age of 19. Her first cookbook, ‘One’, is out now

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Casual Visitor Experience Assistants

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To work within the Visitor Experience Departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created