31 BEST-EVER MOD­ERN COM­FORT FOOD DISHES

BBC Good Food - - Opinion -

Asian-ish 1

This year’s must-try win­ter stew is mut­ton por­ridge at Birm­ing­ham’s Lasan. Chef Ak­tar Is­lam cooks mut­ton lamb shanks for eight hours. The unc­tu­ous bone mar­row, sticky col­la­gen and stock is sim­mered with oats and bul­gar wheat. Ben­gali lemon – the ed­i­ble rinds ex­plode with zesti­ness – and gin­ger run through it. ‘It’s warm­ing and cur­ing,’ says Ak­tar. lasan.co.uk

2

Cov­eted by in-the-know Bris­to­lians is ‘KFC’, Korean fried chicken bao, in a cloud-soft, doughy bao bun, at Woky Ko. Its in­ven­tor, Masterchef fi­nal­ist Larkin Cen, says, ‘The bun al­most melts in your mouth. Then you get the crispy bat­ter of the chicken and in­her­ent flavour of kim­chi. The chicken is mar­i­nated in shaox­ing rice wine, sesame oil, salt and sugar overnight, then deep fried to or­der.’ woky.co

3

Curry nerds head to Glouces­ter­shire for Prithvi Restau­rant’s slow­cooked ox cheek, car­rots, clove & caramelised onion. There, Aziz Rah­man sim­mers cheeks, gar­lic, gin­ger, cloves, car­damom and cumin for three hours. ‘Ox cheeks are fan­tas­ti­cally flavour­some and gelati­nous, which lend hand­somely to the spicy aro­mas. The re­sult is ex­tra­or­di­nary.’ says Rah­man. prithvirestau­rant.com

Healthy-ish 4

Ac­kee bur­rito at Wulf & Lamb, in Lon­don’s Chelsea, is burst­ing with or­ganic black beans, red rice for ex­tra nu­tri­ents and buttery ac­kee fruit from Ja­maica. Gen­eral man­ager He­len Carino says fur­ther lux­u­ri­ous­ness is im­parted with the home­made, dairy-free sour cream made with cashews, lemon ‘and a few other se­crets.’

Wulf & Lamb opens in au­tumn, wul­fand­lamb.com

5

A North­ern Ir­ish riff on the Basque kokotxa, Chris Magowan’s cod cheeks & oys­ter mayo at Wine & Brine in County Ar­magh, slip down the gul­let as eas­ily. ‘We use cheeks as they’re sus­tain­able and when fish are fil­leted, the cheeks are nor­mally dis­carded or in stocks.’ He brines them, ten­deris­ing and sea­son­ing the flesh for a gen­tle, creamys­mooth tex­ture. wine­and­brine.co.uk

6

Kid can­nel­loni with beet­root, rose­hip, goat’s curd & sun­flower seeds sparkles with in­dul­gence. Chef David Everitt-matthias at Le Champignon Sau­vage, the two Miche­lin-starred restau­rant in Chel­tenham, braises kid shoul­ders for 5-6 hours with pigs’ trot­ters, lay­ers the pulled meat be­tween sheets of cele­riac ‘pasta’, then bakes it. Creamy goat curd ‘Jam’ is the pièce de ré­sis­tance. lechampignon­sauvage.co.uk

Cheese 7

The époisses & pre­served cherry sand­wich at The Pa­tri­cia in New­cas­tle has gath­ered fans fast since for­mer River Café chef Nick Grieves opened the restau­rant last year. ‘We’ve kept it on by de­mand,’ says Grieves, who pre­serves the cher­ries in kirsch, cooks the sour­dough in melted but­ter and keeps the époisses at room tem­per­a­ture, ‘be­cause it’s so soft, it’s like it’s been in a cheese press.’ the-pa­tri­cia.com

8

Crisp new pota­toes with green pep­per, hot and sour chimichurri and beef heart, in creamy gor­gonzola sauce, packs a flavour-punch. Its cre­ator, chef Aaron Web­ster at Smoke & Salt, in Pop in Lon­don’s Brix­ton, says, ‘The creamy gor­gonzola with the beef is a per­fect bal­ance. We wanted to sur­prise peo­ple with the sliv­ers of beef heart.’ smoke­and­salt.com

9

Nick Deverell-smith at The Churchill Arms in The Cotswolds has just com­peted on the BBC’S Great Bri­tish Menu. We can see why with this high-oc­tane lob­ster mac­a­roni cheese (be­low). A lob­ster bisque is added to a roux of three cheeses, then the mac­a­roni, lob­ster flesh and tar­ragon is mixed in, be­fore a lob­ster head is placed the­atri­cally on top. churchillarms.co

‘There’s a shift to in­for­mal­ity but also a lot of chefs are mov­ing from con­ven­tion, they’re be­ing bolder’

Mum’s the word 10

‘My Mum used to make cullen skink, a fish stew I’d have with peas as a kid. My in­ter­pre­ta­tion is a fin­nan had­die risotto,’ says John Quigley from Red Onion in Glas­gow. Fin­nan had­die is creamy smoked had­dock. ‘It’s rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive so a lit­tle goes a long way. Then there’s cream, but­ter, peas, parme­san and a soft poached egg. The re­sult is smoky, sweet and creamy.’ red-onion.co.uk

11

Iconic Biben­dum, where chef-great Claude Bosi re­sides, plates up the mean­est “my mum's tripe & cut­tle­fish gratin”, a sub­lime sticky stew with meat­loaf-y ‘cake’ bread, to mop up juices. Bosi rem­i­nisces, ‘She used to make it for me with my brother. It's a dish I cook my­self at the restau­rant as there isn't a recipe.’ biben­dum.co.uk

12

Remi Wil­liams, Smoke & Salt

A cherry and mead­owsweet par­fait, pis­ta­chio and white choco­late, cherry cream and sour cherry sor­bet by ex-mar­cus Ware­ing chef, Jake White, is heaped in nos­tal­gic mem­o­ries. From Cum­bria’s Pen­ton­bridge Inn, he says it’s in­spired by his mum’s cherry com­pote and ice cream: ‘We had a fam­ily friend with a cherry tree. I can still re­mem­ber the taste of a warm cherry picked and eaten fresh.’ pen­ton­bridgeinn.co.uk

Veg­e­tar­ian 13

Ox­ford’s hottest new restau­rant, Ar­be­quina, has a ded­i­cated veg sec­tion. If the col­laps­ing, caramelised but­ter­nut squash, chick­peas & co­rian­der doesn’t make you re­joice, we’re don’t know what will. Tahini, loos­ened with Ar­be­quina olive oil and yo­gurt, uni­fies it. ar­be­quina.co.uk

14

Nopi’s ve­gan break­fast of harissa scram­bled tofu, by chef Claire Hodgson, is heav­ing with flavour. She scram­bles silken tofu with olive oil, onion, rose harissa, and salt. There’s toasted sour­dough as a base and an av­o­cado salad, it’s ‘in­dul­gent, with­out be­ing over­whelm­ing.’ ot­tolenghi.co.uk

15

The acme of the clas­sic leek and cheese combo is Chris Har­rod’s charred leek, nas­tur­tium, herb flow­ers & cheese sauce at The White­brook in ru­ral Mon­mouthshire. The leeks, sous-vided in their own juices, are then charred on the grill, ren­der­ing them sweet and smoky. the­white­brook.co.uk

Up­dated clas­sics 16

Play­ful? Tick. Flavour­some? Tick. The seven­ties clas­sic, ham and pineap­ple pizza, by chef Peter Sanchezigle­sias at Bris­tol’s Pi Shop is made from sour­dough fermented for 24 hours. Fatty Ibérico pork shoul­der jos­tles with sweet pineap­ples which are poached in a sugar syrup and in­fused with chilli, star anise & co­rian­der seed. thep­ishop.co.uk

17

Move over pâté on toast, wel­come game ter­rine with duck fat-soaked bri­oche and red­cur­rant. At Miche­lin­starred The Black Rat in Winch­ester, Jon Mars­den-jones says it was born of a food-waste is­sue, ‘We had a load of ducks and had ren­dered down all this fat, we were won­der­ing what to do with it, that’s how this started.’ the­black­rat.co.uk

18

Span­ish chicken and chorizo has been done by every­one from Nigella to Delia, but Jerome Henry isn’t afraid of re­ju­ve­nat­ing it at Le Roi Fou in Ed­in­burgh. He whips up grilled Cotswold chicken leg with roasted piquillo pep­per, co­coa beans & salty chorizo. leroifou.com

19

Jake White, Pen­ton­bridge Inn

A sponge cake is a granny clas­sic, so it’s no sur­prise Jack­son Boxer says his pear, fen­nel, rose­mary & caramel edi­tion from Chess Club, was in­spired by his ma­ter­nal grand­mother. ‘Week­ends with her were em­bel­lished by very fine sponge cakes at tea,’ says Boxer. chess­clublon­don.com

Carbs 20

Dis­cern­ing Man­cu­ni­ans are seek­ing kim­chi fries at Com­mon in the North­ern Quar­ter. No or­di­nary chips, these are a flavour-rum­pus: think crunchy fries with softer tex­tures of fermented cabbage and radishes, each fork­ful bound to­gether with ssäm sauce and stud­ded with crispy onions. aplace­called­com­mon.co.uk

21

At Silo in Brighton, zero-waste chef Dou­glas Mcmaster makes potato dumplings in blue cheese sauce with roasted young golden beets. Even bet­ter, the dumplings are deep fried. With a combo of roasted beets and raw rib­bons of golden beet, dressed in laven­der vine­gar and sprin­kled with fresh lemon thyme, this be­comes a stand out. silo­brighton.com

22

The potato and ox tongue at

The Wig­more is al­ready a clas­sic, ‘a meal in its own right,’ says Roux pro­tégé Chris King from The Lang­ham Hotel. Pa­per thin-cut pota­toes, lay­ered with sliv­ers of salted ox-tongue, are pressed, steamed and fried, trans­form­ing them into hot, crisp, salty flakes. A clas­sic an­choïade dip (Span­ish cantabrian an­chovies, if you’re ask­ing) gives a kick. the-wig­more.co.uk

Ital­ians do it bet­ter 23

‘This is a big York­shire cud­dle,’ says Gior­gio Alessio, orig­i­nally from Pied­mont in north­ern Italy, of his hand­made black pud ravi­oli with an English mus­tard & sage sauce (above). Caus­ing a fris­son in his restau­rant, Lan­terna in Scar­bor­ough, it’s called ag­nolotti al san­guinac­cio. lan­terna-ris­torante.co.uk

24

Stubby dumplings, fresh­ened up with dol­lops of ri­cotta and sweet pump­kin, make Tim Si­a­datan’s gnudi of pump­kin & ri­cotta the au­tumn hit at Padella in Lon­don’s Bor­ough. No fuss, no faff, these are sim­ple flavours, punc­tu­ated with a lit­tle nut­meg and parme­san. ‘The dumplings just melt in your mouth,’ ex­plains Si­a­datan. padella.co

25

‘We had a fam­ily friend with a cherry tree, I can still re­mem­ber the taste of a cherry, freshly picked’

The must-guz­zle is ox cheek with po­lenta bianco, Mon­tepul­ciano d’abruzzo & dark choco­late sauce at Har­ro­gate’s hottest restau­rant, Stuzzi, where they per­fect stuzzi­chini, small os­te­ria-style plates. ‘The first time we saw beef cooked in wine and choco­late was while vis­it­ing friends in Pescera in Abruzzo,’ says co-owner, Tom Pear­son. ‘The gela­tine from the cheek melts into the choco­late mak­ing it glis­ten.’ stuzzi.co.uk

Brunch 26

Run by fa­ther-and- daugh­ter team Chris and Joanna Bren­nan, Pump Street Bak­ery in Suf­folk’s Or­ford is a go-to for brunch. Much sought-af­ter is maple and rose­mary sausage with a but­ter-glazed free range egg in home­made bri­oche. Joanna says, ‘the maple sausages are in­spired by the sweet-salty com­bi­na­tion clas­sics in Canadian sugar shacks from my child­hood.’ pump­street­bak­ery.com

27

It might be hard to rein­vent eggs Bene­dict, but here we have: the mat­suhisa Bene­dict, a Ja­panese twist at Nobu Hotel in Shored­itch. A deep-fried crispy tofu base is lay­ered with spinach, smoked crab (kani), poached eggs, and aro­matic shiso béar­naise sauce. There are salmon eggs (ikura) to boot. nobuho­telshored­itch.com

28

Light, del­i­cate, gen­tle are three ad­jec­tives to de­scribe Tom Adams’ home-made yo­gurt. At his guest­house, Coombeshead Farm in Corn­wall’s Le­wan­nick, guests fight for it. Am­brosial raw Cor­nish milk is heated gen­tly, be­fore black­cur­rant leaves or fresh net­tles are added as the cul­tures. coombeshead­farm. co.uk

Jack­son Boxer, Chess Club

Child­hood favourites reimag­ined 29

We reckon choco­late & caramel ‘Snick­ers’ with peanut ice cream by pas­try chef Tracey Rutt and Michael Chap­man, at Hur­ley House Hotel in Hen­ley-on-thames, is the most cos­set­ing com­fort dessert. It’s a naughty mix of choco­late flour­less sponge, caramel mousse, piped silken choco­late crémeaux, roasted salted peanuts and caramel shards. hur­ley­house.co.uk

30

‘My grand­par­ents al­ways gave me lamb, ap­ple and mint,’ re­calls Tommy Banks, head chef at The Black Swan in Old­stead, York­shire, and one of this year’s BBC Great Bri­tish Menu win­ners. Meet the de­scen­dent: Texel lamb with turnip & mint. ‘I pickle ap­ple mint leaves, you bite into the fatty rack of lamb and it melts in the mouth, it’s served with a rich fermented turnip purée, al­most like puréed potato.’ black­swanold­stead.co.uk

31

A Hob­nobs cheese­cake is toothachingly evoca­tive, but Dan Do­herty’s bis­cuits crum­bled on top are home­made, while but­ter­milk in the cheese keeps it lively. There’s also a trickle of vine­gar in the caramel to ‘take the flavours up a notch,’ says Do­herty, from Sprout’s pop-up kitchen. ‘The fruit in it changes through­out the year, from peaches to plums, or roasted ap­ples.’ Sprout opens soon. @sproutrest_ @sproutrestau­rant_

‘The most com­fort­ing food can be salad leaves, freshly picked – we’ve be­come health­ier and more ap­pre­cia­tive of veg’

Ac­kee bur­rito at Wulf & Lamb

Mut­ton por­ridge at Lasan New pota­toes with beef heart at Smoke & Salt

Smoke & Salt chefs Aaron Web­ster (left) and Remi Wil­liams

Tripe & cut­tle­fish gratin at Biben­dum

Sausage and egg bri­oche at Pump Street Bak­ery

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