Bill Granger recipes: Slow-roasted lamb shoulder; Baked soup of cabbage, bread and anchovies; Pan-fried pork steaks with Marsala

The best Italian cookery is simple, unpretentious and, most of all, homely, says Bill Granger
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I have an Italian friend who finds the term foodie hilarious. As he puts it, we all eat every day, so it's only natural that we should all prepare our food with care and pride. So I guess the term doesn't make any sense to Italians, seeing as they are all essentially foodies. No wonder it's so easy to fall in love with their cuisine!

Whenever I spend time in Italy, I am wowed by the way they manage to cook so simply, letting a few ingredients do all the talking. It all tastes so delectable, but, as importantly, looks and feels homely and unpretentious.

These dishes take inspiration from food I have eaten in Italian homes. Nothing fancy, just good, warming meals. And like so much Italian food, they're simple. Yes, the soup and roast lamb benefit from longer, slow cooking, but really they are just as easy to throw together as the quick Marsala pork. My kind of food!

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, and 50 Sekforde Street, London EC1, tel: 020 7251 9032, Follow Bill on Instagram at bill.granger

Lamb shoulder for slow cooking (Laura Edwards)

Slow-roasted lamb shoulder with rosemary potatoes and chilli relish

This is a great weekend dish. Perfect for when you have a little more time to be at home to keep an eye on the oven, while it does most of the hard work.

Serves 4-6


1½kg lamb shoulder on the bone

1 whole head garlic, sliced in half horizontally

1 handful fresh sage leaves

800g potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

2 sprigs rosemary

For the chilli relish

6 large red chillies, seeded and diced

2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 garlic clove, crushed

120ml extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, and place the lamb, garlic and sage in a baking dish. Add 250ml of water, cover with foil and roast for 2½ hours. Check the lamb from time to time while cooking; you may need to add more water as it evaporates.

After about 1½ hours, toss the potatoes in another roasting tin with oil and rosemary, salt and pepper, and place in the oven.

After another hour, remove the potatoes and keep warm, then uncover the lamb, increase the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7 and roast for a further 20 minutes to brown. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone.

Meanwhile, make the chilli relish. Place the chillies, parsley and garlic in a bowl and stir to combine. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat. When hot, pour over the chilli mix. Leave for a few minutes for the flavours to develop. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the lamb and potatoes with the chilli relish on the side. k

Baked soup of cabbage, bread and anchovies (Laura Edwards)

Baked soup of cabbage, bread and anchovies

I love the concept behind this soup. Why not make the bread part of the main dish rather than just using it for dipping?

Serves 4


500g ciabatta, cut into 1cm thick slices

4 cloves garlic, 2 peeled and whole, 2 thinly sliced

4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 small Savoy cabbage, roughly chopped

8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and chopped

50g Parmesan, coarsely grated, plus extra to serve

Nutmeg, freshly grated

850ml good chicken stock

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Lay the slices of ciabatta on a couple of large baking sheets and cook in the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and a little crisp, but not dry. Remove from the oven and rub all over with the whole garlic cloves. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, tip in the sliced garlic and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the onion and cabbage and toss to coat with the oil and garlic, then cook until just wilted. Add in the anchovy fillets and stir through the cabbage. Remove from the heat.

Put a third of the toast into the bottom of a round casserole dish, about 8cm high and 23cm wide. Break the bread to fit the dish. Pile on half of the cabbage mix and top with a third of the cheese and a grating of nutmeg. Repeat this layering once more, finishing with a layer of toast. Pour over the stock and submerge the bread lightly with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle over the Parmesan and a final grating of nutmeg. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes. The soup will be golden and crisp on top. Serve with extra Parmesan on the side.

Pan-fried pork steaks with Marsala (Laura Edwards)

Pan-fried pork steaks with Marsala

Call it retro if you like, but this Marsala sauce always brings a smile to my face.

Serves 4


5 tbsp flour

4 thin pork steaks

1 tbsp olive oil

Knob butter

100ml Marsala

100ml crème fraîche

Small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the Parmesan mash

800g potatoes, peeled and chopped

150ml milk

25g butter

100g Parmesan, grated

Start with the mash. Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender. Remove from the heat and drain well. Return to the hot pan and mash. Place the milk and butter in a small pan over a medium heat until the butter has melted. Pour into the potatoes and beat until smooth. Fold through the Parmesan, season to taste and keep covered while you cook the pork.

Place the flour on a plate and season well with salt and pepper. Place a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and heat the oil and butter. Dredge the pork lightly in the seasoned flour, and place immediately in the hot pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Add Marsala to the pan, scraping it with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom. Reduce the quantity by half, add the crème fraîche, lower the heat to medium and cook for one minute, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Add to the pan the pork, and any juices that have collected, turning over to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately scattered with finely chopped parsley and the Parmesan mash.