HOW WE EAT NOW Emma Freud knows the tips and tricks for mak­ing high-street take­aways at home

Finds out how to make her fam­ily’s favourite take­aways at home. But do they taste as good?

BBC Good Food - - Contents - @em­mafreud

So that went well. I think the point is that this post-mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion is so used to take­aways that the ideal home-cooked meal is some­thing which tastes as close as pos­si­ble to fast food. So reader, I have a plan… mak­ing brilliant copy­cat fast food at home. The trick is mak­ing it look and taste as close as pos­si­ble to some­thing that ar­rived on a bike, while us­ing healthy and easy-to-buy in­gre­di­ents. There’s a mul­ti­tude of in­for­ma­tion avail­able on­line for mak­ing ‘take­aways’ at home, but I’ve done the hard work for you. These are my top tips.

Pizza Ex­press-in­spired piz­zas

If I had a pound for ev­ery time I’d seen my chil­dren’s ‘un­der­whelmed’ faces when I pre­sented my home­made pizza, I wouldn’t need to be writ­ing this ar­ti­cle. Turns out it’s not the in­gre­di­ents at fault; it’s the heat of the oven. What you need is a stove­top pizza oven: they sit on your hob, take 12-15 min­utes to get to over 300 de­grees, and turn out crispy piz­zas in less than 5 min­utes. When a pizza cooks that fast, ev­ery­thing about it is bet­ter and so much more like a… what’s the word… take­away. Also FYI, dried oregano is Pizza Ex­press’s sig­na­ture herb.

Big Mac-style burg­ers

This one’s more com­pli­cated but em­i­nently achiev­able. To be au­then­tic, use only 45 grams of beef per patty (two pat­ties for a Big Mac). The onion layer is made by chop­ping an onion very finely and dry­ing it out in a mi­crowave to in­ten­sify the flavour, be­fore spread­ing un­der the patty, not over it. Then cheese, let­tuce, two slices of pickle and ‘special sauce’ made by mix­ing may­on­naise, gherkin rel­ish, grated onion, vine­gar, sugar, mild mus­tard and my se­cret in­gre­di­ent: Mar­mite.

Chicken tikka masala

The way to make this dish closer to a clas­sic is to mar­i­nate the chicken in yo­gurt and spices, then char-grid­dle it to blacken the edges be­fore adding it to the spicy tomato sauce.

Nando’s-style chicken

Blitz lime juice, gin­ger, chilli flakes, sweet pa­prika, red wine vine­gar, gar­lic, pars­ley, salt, pep­per, olive oil and a shal­lot. But­ter­fly a whole chicken by cut­ting out the back­bone, and smother in sauce. Mar­i­nate for an hour, then roast for 50 min­utes in an oven set to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Serve with Nando’s Hot Peri-peri Sauce, which you can buy at Waitrose.

Sesame prawn toast

It never oc­curred to me that you could cook this at home. But you can, and it works. Blitz raw prawns, gar­lic, gin­ger, chilli, onion, an egg, soy sauce and sesame oil. Spread thickly onto day-old bread, cover with sesame seeds, and shal­low fry.

Pop­corn chicken

There is a magic in­gre­di­ent here, and it’s bak­ing pow­der – that’s what makes the nuggets puff. To fool even the most ex­pe­ri­enced KFC cus­tomer, take pieces of chicken, roll them in flour that you’ve sea­soned with chilli pow­der, salt and bak­ing pow­der, dunk them in but­ter­milk and roll in panko bread­crumbs. Then do all three again so the nugget has a dou­ble layer for mas­sive crunch. Fry in veg­etable oil, drain on kitchen pa­per, and you may find Bob is ac­tu­ally your un­cle.

If none of the above work, buy some lit­tle take­away con­tain­ers, fake a con­ver­sa­tion with a bike de­liv­ery guy (‘How much? You’ve got to be kid­ding!’), and tell the chil­dren how lucky they are to have a par­ent like you who gets them take­away.

Good Food con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Emma Freud is a jour­nal­ist and broad­caster, di­rec­tor of Red Nose Day and a co-pre­sen­ter of Ra­dio Four’s Loose Ends.

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