Time for some­thing spe­cial

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

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

them thinly.

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

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