Time for something special
Icook a lot of what most people would consider “special occasion” food in my restaurant all the time, so it can be hard to work out what to cook when I want to make something special at home. Food that is both simple and impressive is tricky. We don’t want to spend the whole day cooking, but we do want to amaze our guests.
This menu strikes a balance, with a good-looking dish that is really just a careful assembly job, a classic main course that showcases beautiful ingredients and a spectacular dessert that looks tremendous but is fairly straightforward to produce. It will provide an unforgettable finale if brought out with a glass of champagne at the midnight hour. Make sure you get the freshest scallops for this dish, and slice
Serves 8 20 fresh scallops 2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer discarded, green fronds reserved 1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped Extra-virgin olive oil Juice and zest of 1 lemon Seeds from ½ pomegranate
Using a very sharp knife, slice the scallops as thinly as possible into discs.
Lay them out on each plate. Season each plate with a little salt and pepper.
Slice the fennel on a mandolin (or with a sharp knife) into slivers that are almost transparent. Scatter these over the scallops, followed by any fennel fronds.
Place the chopped chilli in a bowl and pour over a few tablespoons of oil. Spoon the chilli oil over each plate, followed by the lemon zest and a good squeeze of lemon juice, making sure each slice of scallop gets attention. Sprinkle over the pomegranate, then drizzle over a little extra oil before serving. You can use thick pieces of veal shin if whole ones are hard to find.
Serves 8-10 2 whole veal shins, trimmed of thick sinew Olive oil 125g/4½oz butter 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, chopped 1 celery heart, finely chopped 6 anchovy fillets ½ small bunch of thyme 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes, drained and rinsed ½ bottle of white wine Risotto alla milanese 150g/5 oz butter 1 large red or white onion, finely chopped 450g/1lb carnaroli rice 125ml/4fl oz dry vermouth 1½ litres/2½ pints high-quality chicken stock, kept warm 1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water 100g/3½oz Parmesan, grated Gremolata 2 lemons, zest finely grated 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped ½ bunch of parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
Heat a good splash of oil in your largest pan over a medium-high heat. Brown the veal on all sides until deep golden, then remove from the pan for a moment.
Lower the heat, then add the butter to the pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and celery with a pinch of salt for 10-15 minutes, until soft.
Carefully return the veal to the pan on top of the vegetables. Add the anchovies and thyme and rip in the tomatoes. Season well with a little salt and black pepper, then pour over the wine and bring to the boil. Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the meat with greaseproof paper and the lid.
Leave to cook for at least two hours over a low heat (or in a 150C/300F/Gas 2 oven) turning the shins over a few times and checking
Three’s company: clockwise from above, scallops with fennel; ossobucco; and croquembouche